Bring straws back to dining halls

By Gi’erra Cottingham | Contributor

Straws. Such an under-appreciated, yet convenient item that is no longer available for Baylor students in dining halls. Straws make life easier. Straws can even prevent germs from going into one’s mouth. Don’t want to harm the turtles with what some might call “irrelevant plastic?” No worries, take a moment to thank Marvin Stone; he invented the paper straw in 1888.

The number of times I’ve slightly spilled my drink while walking quickly to class is countless. As many would agree, an ice cold caffeinated Dr Pepper is soothing before a rigorous business calculus or Christian scriptures class. It is not so soothing, though, when you have three minutes to fast walk there while balancing a drink with no straw.

In another human vs. drink situation, one might have a lid for their drink. In this case, the drink is ten times more useless without a straw. Speaking from personal experience, I have never had the time nor energy to release the lid, pull the cup to my mouth, and take a quick swig while rushing to class.

Without straws, students are forced to drink directly from the cup with the potential thought that another person could’ve touched the exact same cup. The first step to pouring yourself a drink in the dining hall is simply grabbing a cup from the stack. The upside down stacked display of the cups causes us students to commonly touch the rims of other cups we didn’t pick up. The millions of germs passed along this process are unpleasant to think about; especially during the era of COVID-19.

The consideration that dirt or debris from one’s hands could be transferred to the very cup we put our mouth on to drink out of triggers health concern. Potentially, someone could sneeze into their hand, forget to wash their hands or sanitize, and touch two cups at a time while reaching for their own.

Straws would prevent mouth to germ contact on the rims of cups unless one absolutely despised straws. Straws would be 100% sanitary since they are normally wrapped in paper and never directly touched by the public until unwrapping them.

Environmentalists would praise Baylor’s dining halls for not making plastic straws available to students. Fair and valid point, but we thankfully live in a society with multiple alternatives. Paper straws can decompose back into the earth in a short span of 45 to 90 days, while plastic straws take 200 years to decompose. The difference between the two is true insanity, but those facts alone make the absence of straws within the dining hall, non-excusable.

To prevent the waste of valuable resources even further, individual straws could be given to each student and staff member who has access to the dining halls. This straw could be reusable and would easily give everyone the option to make use of it.

If this were introduced, all Baylor students will be able to sprint to class without the worries of spilling their drink or getting infected by COVID-19 if another student recently touched their disposable cup a few moments before.

Straws provide multiple advances that students across campus could become grateful for. Straws, no matter the shape or form, make life easier, prevent the spread of germs, and can be transformed into more environmentally friendly materials.