Chico State: This is the last Straw!


Do you think straws should be banned on campus? Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

Sipping on a cool drink with a fancy colored straw while relaxing sounds all too intriguing. It’s a picture on Instagram that will attract all the likes but, in my eyes, this is just another accessory. While this image gets attention through the virtual world, that one plastic straw is going back into the real world. According to The Marine Mammal Center, 90 percent of the trash in the ocean is made up of plastic.

If you haven’t seen the terrorizing images that can conclude when a small stubborn piece of plastic makes it to the ocean, you’ve become oblivious to the dangers it brings. So, while you’re sucking on a straw, a life of a marine animal is being taken who mistakenly consumes the straw for food. According to the United Nations, while there are 51 trillion micro-plastic particles in the world’s ocean already, researchers have estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the seas by 2050.

Not only can plastic be found in our oceans, but it is also affecting our environment, especially on Western shorelines and the human food chain. According to The Last Straw, beach cleanups pick up 5,000 plastic straws annually and part of the top 10 list of litter items found during International Coastal Cleanup Day.

The problem with plastic is that it does not biodegrade. Therefore, one plastic straw degrades into smaller pieces and every piece of plastic that has made it into landfills remains in our environment. Due to this, we end up breathing the toxic dioxins released into the air.

It’s time to take a stand and join the rest of Chico, who has already been a part of this campaign. For example, Hula’s was the encouragement for Chico State to join in on the Strawless Campaign.

Let’s suck up those tears now. It’s true Chico State is going strawless but just because of this, it doesn’t mean we won’t have straws anymore. In fact, this campaign is to bring an alternative way to get rid of plastic straws and bring in recyclable paper ones.

The idea is to get rid of all our plastic straws and bring stainless steel straws for students to purchase and carry around. If you don’t choose to participate in this campaign, Chico State market stations will give you a paper straw upon request.

Associate Dining Director Elaine Kramer said that the campus is in the process of launching this campaign in April by selling packages that will contain a steel straw, a brush to clean your straw and a swag sticker to show your support.

“I attended a meeting, there was only a handful on a list that was supporting this cause in town and Hula’s happened to be one of them. They’re kind of the main charge of one of the restaurants offering to pay for straws,” Kramer said. “So, I put a presentation together and took it to the board and we decided that it’s something that we wanted to do, and I’ve also had sustainability on board. In conjugation with Earth Day, on the 23rd we’re launching strawless and we will be offering at every retail unit a package which we will be selling for what we’re purchasing them for, to offer students an alternative. But we will also give you a straw upon request.”

I admit it. I’m one of those customers at a restaurant who sees a smudge on my utensils and must ask for a new one because I don’t believe they’re properly cleaned and use straws to sip my drink. So, count me in. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to carry your own straw around, in fact, I was lucky enough to get a little preview of my own to share with all of you, and I can’t wait. This is such an exciting way to help our environment and while you sip on a drink with your new reusable straw you can also be thinking of how you’ll be helping a marine animal keep its life.

Here are what some people on campus have to say:

Nani Teves Photo credit: Karen Limones

Nani Teves, Sustainability Coordinator

“It’s exciting Chico State is going strawless for a couple reasons, but one of them is (that) we’re participating in a larger campaign to reduce single-use plastic. The other thing that’s cool about going strawless: it’s just one tiny piece of single-use plastic we use in our everyday lives, but it opens the door to people looking at single-use plastic differently,” Teves said. “So, if you can get rid of a straw, you can start using reusable forks and spoons, reusable cups and so it kind of kicks the door up to think about plastic differently, it seems little but its actually very big. So, it’s a great thing.”

Michal Hanson,jpg
Michal Hanson Photo credit: Karen Limones

Michal Hanson, second year

“I think it’s great. It’s important that we cut down on plastic; straws are so unnecessary to sip out of cups. With the metal straws, it’s not a hassle to carry them around with you and I love that Chico State is getting on board with it, because we are a sustainable campus and I think we should be showing that through actions and by getting rid of straws is one step closer to what we should be doing.”

Alyssa Myers.jpg
Alyssa Myers Photo credit: Karen Limones

Alyssa Myers, second year

“I think going strawless is a good idea for our Chico State campus and I hope it inspires more change because it is a small step and hopefully this leads to bigger steps along the line. Chico State, one of our main values is sustainability so hopefully, we keep following that path.”

Karen Limones can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.