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West 82 minimizes the use of plastic straws on OU’s campus

Ohio University’s West 82 Food Court is leading the Greening OHIO Initiative by providing strawless cups at its location to minimize the use of plastic straws on campus.

“West 82 went ‘strawless’ in spring 2020 by requiring people to ask for straws from the cashier in order to reduce our amount of straw usage, much like the disposable plastic shopping bags,” Jim Sabin, university spokesperson, said in an email.

Straws are still available upon request at West 82, as the food court does not want to compromise their service for individuals who may require straws, Sabin said.

Sabin said West 82’s straws and disposable plastic shopping bags will now be kept under the counter and will be available for five cents by request only. There is also be a five-cent discount for anyone using a reusable shopping bag. 

The OHIO Zero Waste Initiative at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation. The initiative strives to seek new ways to reduce the university’s waste footprint and promote sustainability on campus.

The OHIO Zero Waste Initiative was developed the OHIO Green Events Guide several years ago. The initiative is collaborating with various departments and units on campus to help reduce the university’s waste footprint and take a more proactive approach to sustainability.

“Since fall of 2018, one of my main projects has been revising the Green Events Guide in order to make it more accessible and up-to-date,” Elle Dickerman, a junior studying environmental studies and geography, said in an email. “The Greening OHIO Initiative was born out of this process.”

Nicole Kirchner, an environmental specialist at the Voinovich School of Leadership, said those collaborative efforts will streamline the Green Events Guide, which will encourage the university to make that approach the status quo, not an opt-in effort, for all university-affiliated events.

“We hope that changes like eliminating straws in West 82 can show the university and the community as a whole that moving towards sustainability is a priority, and is achievable through collaborative efforts,” Dickerman said in an email.

Dickerman also said that with the right number of open-minded individuals, change can be achieved. 

“I hope to continue seeing progress like this everywhere, as now is the time to take action to protect natural resources and the integrity of the environment,” Dickerman said in an email.

Kirchner said open dialogue helps each university unit see where there are opportunities to choose the sustainable option.

“Finding, connecting and encouraging those advocates across units is a mainstay of how the OHIO Zero Waste Initiative works to actualize more sustainability on campus,” Kirchner said in an email.


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