Marine Biologist Christine Figgener posted a video of her team removing a plastic straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose in August 2015. The video went viral, popping up on Twitter feeds today. This video showing a marine animal in pain inspired many to stop using plastic straws.
SUNY Plattsburgh has joined the plastic-straw-free movement, removing all plastic straws from all campus dining as well as on-campus franchises such as Einstein’s and Tim Horton’s at the beginning of this semester.
Single-use plastic straws have been removed in phases starting last academic year by removing them from non-franchise concepts by College Auxiliary Services in partnership with the Committee for Environmental Responsibility, a group of students, faculty and staff that meets three times a semester to come up with ways to lessen the college’s ecological footprint.
“Scoops, Einsteins, Subway and Tim Horton’s still had plastic straws, so we costed out what the difference in price would be, because we have to provide straws, to go away from plastic to paper,” Wayne Duprey, executive director of College Auxiliary Services, said. “We decided it’s the right thing to do.”
The paper straws cost approximately $1,100 more a year than plastic.
“I was surprised they actually did it,” Alaina Asin, a sophomore biomedical science major, said. “I know how bad plastic is now and I actually have a pet turtle.”
Most of Asin’s peers had a similar reaction to the new paper straws.
“I think most people, at least my friends and people I know they seem to really like it,”Asin said. “Some people told me that they don’t really like the way it gets a bit wet if you leave it in there for a while, but I mean you can just finish your drink quickly.”
Of the eight million tons of plastic that flows into the ocean every year, straws make up just .25% of that, according to National Geographic. Although the impact may be small, it is a movement people have found easy to rally around. Even some cities such as Seattle, have banned plastic straws all together.
“We’re trying to be within our footprint that CAS services provide, campus dining being one of them, to be progressive in our sustainability efforts.” Duprey said.