Ohio University is removing straws from campus dining areas to help support the movement to reduce the amount of plastic going in the environment.

It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, about 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away every day, Samuel Crowl, sustainability project coordinator in Office of Sustainability, said in an email. That adds up to about 182.5 billion plastic straws per year.

Culinary Services is trying to help the environment by reducing the amount of plastic at the university. Dining halls no longer use plastic straws. At the start of the Fall Semester 2018, Latitude 39 removed straws and West 82 has planned a solution to eliminate them. However, in both locations, straws will still be provided upon request.   

Culinary Services is also working with Starbucks to create a lid to replace the lid and plastic straw that is served with cold beverages. These lids will be used at The Front Room Coffeehouse, Southside Espresso Bar and Steam Station Café.

Smooth Moves and Steeped & Stirred are sourcing a paper straw option after Culinary Services uses up its current inventory of plastic straws. 

Single-use plastics are a significant problem. It is much better for the environment to encourage the creation of a circular economy focusing on reduction, reuse and recycling, Crowl said in an email.

Melissa Koziol, a senior studying public health, said she thinks the university should reduce the amount of plastic used and feels the university should listen to the students.

“It’s nice to know that what we’re saying is important,” Koziol said.

Bradley Cronin, a freshman studying nursing, said removing straws is a good idea and that he is all for saving the environment. 

Crowl said in an email that the world has developed the habit of providing plastic bags and straws even when they are not needed or necessary, which contributes to the problem. Unfortunately, plastic bags are no longer locally recycled.        

Culinary Services said it is going to continue to implement sustainability efforts at various venues across the campus through the university’s Sustainability Plan