Out with the old, in with the new- straws that is. Many businesses around the nation have been trying to become more ‘green’ in an effort to reduce the overall environmental impact these businesses have, and to help conserve earth’s precious resources. Millersville University has taken that next step to become green by eliminating all plastic straws in the dining halls on campus and transitioning to only paper biodegradable drinking straws. This switch was officially made in March 2019.
Biodegradable means that a substance can be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. When we throw out plastic, like in plastic straws, it doesn’t decompose naturally and instead sits in waste piles, sometimes harming the earth and wildlife. With paper straws, once they get thrown away, they will naturally decompose and not cause a threat to the earth.
“The transition to all paper straws in the dining halls on campus is a tremendous example of MU going green,” says Director of Dining and Conference Services Ed Nase. “We decided to transition toward using paper straws instead of plastic straws during the summer of 2018. I am happy to report that as of mid-March of the 2019 spring semester our dining locations were free of plastic straws. It’s a small change that we made to reduce unnecessary waste and to demonstrate to our students that we’re thinking about their future.”
Millersville’s Dining and Conference Service team has been a leader on campus sustainability initiatives over the years. An example of this is how they have made significant progress to reduce food waste and beneficially reuse the waste generated through compositing.
Chris Steuer, sustainability director at MU, explained that plastic straws and other single-use plastics become a challenge to recyclers because they tend to slip through the cracks of recycling equipment and therefore are not easily recycled. Steuer further explains, “Anything we can do to cut down on plastics that we can’t recycle is a big help. Dining and Conference Services’ work to transition to paper straws is another step towards better management of our waste stream.”
For more information on MU’s sustainability efforts, visit www.millersville.edu/sustainability.