Biodegradable Alternative to Replace Plastic Straws at University

September 3, 2019 | UToday
By Alexis Razo

UToledo Dining Services is encouraging students, faculty and staff to sip smarter.

Beginning fall semester, plastic straws will be replaced with a biodegradable alternative. Made from 100% renewable resources, the straws are sturdy and certified compostable in commercial compost facilities.

The decision, kicked off by leaders in Student Government and UToledo Dining Services, was part of larger efforts to reduce plastic across all campuses.

“We are so excited to start the school year off right, with a change to reduce our environmental impact,” said Rebecca Sturges, president of Student Government.

The switch will save 700,000 straws from hitting local landfills and lakes or polluting the oceans each year.

The Sip Smarter campaign is in addition to many improvements implemented throughout the University by UToledo’s Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design (SEED) Initiative. This program focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency, and is designed to ensure the University is operating in a manner that benefits the community. To learn more about SEED, visit the SEED website.

“We share the University’s passion to protect and preserve our oceans and our natural resources,” said Cameron McAdams, resident district manager of UToledo Dining Services. “We are committed to reducing waste before it happens. By participating in the Sip Smarter campaign, you can help turn the tide on plastics in our oceans.”

Research from other universities that have participated in the Sip Smarter campaign state that 60% of their consumers are concerned with overuse of plastic, and 80% of those want to reduce personal consumption of plastics.

Each year 8 million tons of plastic leaks into the ocean, according to Plastic Oceans International. Universities joining the Sip Smarter movement have helped remove more than 100 million plastic straws a year, equating to more than 12,000 miles placed end to end, enough to wrap half way around the world.

“We are so excited: Going green is something our senate is extremely passionate about,” said Madison Lawson, vice president of Student Government. “We’re all making steps in the right direction to diminish the University’s environmental impact.”

In addition, UToledo Dining Services will launch a new UToledo stainless-steel straw, soon to be available for purchase in the Thompson Student Union Food Court, Starbucks, Java City, Freshens, Bottle Rocket, Rocket Market, Steak ‘N Shake and Chick-fil-A.

Campus community members are invited to try the new biodegradable straw while sipping on free lemonade Thursday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Centennial Mall.

“We are excited to kick off our first sustainable straw event of the semester,” said Jamie Finlin, marketing director of UToledo Dining Services. “The first 100 customers to purchase a stainless-steel straw kit will receive a free reusable UToledo Mason jar to go with their lemonade.”

To learn more about UToledo Dining Services’ sustainability efforts on campus, visit the Dining and Hospitality Services’ website.

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