By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer
Baylor’s is going green with the removal of plastic straws from all of its dining halls.
This initiative by Aramark, Baylor’s food service provider, is a small part of its larger commitment to going green and looking out for the planet. “Green Thread” is Aramark’s mission in the environmental realm, and Aramark hopes it will help to lower the environmental impact of disposable plastics.
“Plastic straws and stirrers will be phased out first. We expect nearly 100 million of these items be removed from the waste stream in the U.S. alone every year,” said Sean McMahon, director of campus dining. “To help get there, we’re also launching a ‘Sip Smarter’ campaign to educate consumers about why this action is important, and how we can all personally support the effort by changing our habits.”
Activism for decreasing plastic waste is nothing new, but it has been making several large strides in recent years. From cities like Washington, D.C, which banned plastic bags back in 2009, to cities who have yet to implement a similar policy, like Boston, people have been working reduce the amount of plastic used. Major cities like San Francisco are giving the boot to plastic straws, and the world seems to be moving in a greener direction.
Although Baylor is not outright banning or prohibiting plastic of any kind of from its dining halls, there are campuses across the country that have. In April, the University of Portland became the first American university to ban straws after they worked with their food service provider back in 2010 to ban the sales of bottled water on campus.
Advocates of anti-plastic movements want people to be more conscious of their plastic use, even for something as seemingly trivial as a straw. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, over 100 million marine animals are killed by plastic debris in the ocean.
“Anything we use that’s plastic can end up in the waterways,” said Doug Nesmith, Baylor’s environmental science lab coordinator. “All the plastics last so long and break down so slow that we will have plastics accumulating where they can accumulate. Unfortunately, a lot of that ends up in waterways, which ends up in oceans or the Gulf of Mexico.”
McMahon says Aramark isn’t stopping with just straws; he says they will be moving on from a number of detrimental objects to the environment to help Baylor develop more of a green thumb.
“Next, we’ll tackle additional single use plastics, such as bags and cutlery, while expanding our offerings of reusable items and partnering with suppliers and national brands to reduce packaging,” McMahon said.