Considering paper straws for a more sustainable campus



Ashland University is arguably a sustainable campus. There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved through Sustainability Club and various locations to recycle practically anything.

The dining locations around campus are also working towards sustainability. The Eagle’s Nest lets students purchase a reusable green box for a small fee that can be exchanged and reused each time they pick up food from there. This cuts down on the amount of styrofoam that is discarded.

While these efforts towards sustainability around AU are great and have the potential to make a difference, there are always small changes that can be made to do more. Another move that could be made towards sustainability would be making the change to paper straws.

Changing to paper straws would cut down on the number of plastic straws that are used and thrown out all over campus between the Eagle’s Nest and Tuffy’s Smoothie Bar. Especially since the Eagle’s Nest also serves Starbucks Coffee and straws are provided with the cold beverages.

Now would be a good time to start implementing paper straws because the AU Sustainability Club began surveying for interest in switching to reusable cups around campus during the 2019 fall semester.

Paper straws are better for the environment than plastic because when they are thrown away or recycled, they can break down easier and are less harmful. When plastic breaks down it can get into groundwater resources and is a source of contaminants, harmful to both humans and animals.

Since AU is already making strides towards sustainability through its clubs and recycling program, it would make sense to keep pushing towards a more sustainable campus culture. Switching to paper straws would be a way to cut down on our ecological footprint as a campus even more.

According to CNBC, paper straws cost around two cents more than plastic and over time that cost would add up, but the environmental impacts from an increase of plastic could potentially decrease and that is better for the long term.

Paper straws, if thrown away, will break down much easier than plastic, but they could also be recycled or composted. That way, even if these straws are thrown away, the environmental impacts would be less.

A lot of people are opposed to paper straws becase of the potential for them to dissentigrate in their drinks or because they may have an odd taste to them. These are cons to using paper straws and should be taken into consideration alongside the cost because people use straws at such a high frequency.

While there are certainly pros and cons to switching to paper straws, the main thing to realize is that there is a high capacity of straws used on this campus and decreasing that amount would contribute significantly to the push for sustainability at AU.