California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

The Last Straw: Cal Lutheran Aims to Eliminate Plastic Straws in University-Wide Sustainability Effort

The university is working to reduce plastic waste as a whole with help from the Sustainability Committee. Plastic straws will be eliminated across campus in an effort to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

“Plastic straws in the U.S. only comprise 0.02 percent of the world’s plastic pollution and even though it’s that minute, it still makes a difference,” Associated Students of California Lutheran University President Nick Steinwender said. “Even though the United States, California and even Cal Lutheran have an immensely small, kind of, footprint in terms of plastic pollution, it’s still like a good faith effort and showing that we’re making the effort to change.”

According to the Cal Lutheran website, the Sustainability Committee’s main objective is to recycle, conserve, reuse and get outside. 

After watching the video ‘Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril’ by YouTube user Sea Turtle Biologist, ASCLU Senate Director Alexis Ghattas said she sponsored the legislation to eliminate straws last semester in hopes of making a change to Cal Lutheran’s sustainability efforts.

The video, which was published in August 2015, shows a plastic straw being removed from the nasal cavity of an Olive Ridley sea turtle during a research trip in Costa Rica, according to the video description.

“We had a club come in, Ocean’s Outreach, and their president came in asking to buy rights for the film,” Ghattas said. “She had a showing, we sponsored the showing, we gave away Hydroflasks, [and] we gave away reusable straws in conjunction with their ‘Keep the Sanity’ event.”

Ghattas said she reached out to members of the Sustainability Committee on campus and has worked closely with Clinton Oie, director of Auxiliaries at Cal Lutheran.

“The students want this to happen now, so we did our best to make that happen,” Oie said.

The initiative to eliminate plastic straws on campus already began, pioneered by the Starbucks located at Jack’s Corner.

According to the Starbucks website, the coffee chain recently introduced a new system that replaces plastic straws with a straw-less lid alternative. The redesigned lids were released in July, according to the website. The Starbucks website said the company hopes to phase out plastic straws by 2020.

“I’ve heard some students say they’re not used to the new lids, but there hasn’t been any negative connotation associated with it,” Steinwender said.

In addition to the lids, Starbucks is also implementing straws made of paper.

Ghattas and Steinwender said Centrum Café and Ullman Commons are contributing to the effort by eliminating straws in the facilities. They resorted to having no straws and started using other sustainable materials, like paper cups and lids for condiments.

Steinwender said Jamba Juice has yet to be included in the straw elimination effort.

“Jamba Juice still is doing plastic, but I know there’s conversation about them doing paper,” Steinwender said. “Not from a campus perspective, but Jamba Juice as a whole [company].”

Jamba Juice is contracted through Sodexo, Cal Lutheran’s partner for campus catering. Steinwender said there is nothing Cal Lutheran can do regarding Sodexo’s ban on straw use.

“Sodexo doesn’t have the ability to dictate what [Jamba Juice] can and can’t do; it’s still the corporate offices that do that,” Steinwender said. “We can encourage them to do that, but they’ll have to go through their corporate ladder in getting that approved. It’s going to take their company to invest in those products and make them available.”

Jason Adams, the regional district manager for Sodexo, recently contacted Starbucks and Jamba Juice headquarters to see what changes can be made starting at the college campus level.

“I hope that everyone at Cal Lutheran participates,” Oie said. “It’s really up to us to do the right thing.”

Until then, Cal Lutheran will continue to work with vendors to see what solutions best fit the university’s sustainability standards.

Leanna Kontos

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