University Launches Strawless Initiative


Courtesy of Kiana Quinonez/The Charger Bulletin

Instead of straws and traditional lids, students can use coffee top lids.

The University of New Haven has recently made the decision to get rid of single-use plastic straws at dining locations such as W.O.W Cafe and The Marketplace. Instead of using straws, students are being encouraged to use coffee cup lids. This is part of an effort by the university to reduce plastic pollution both on campus and the environment.

“It’s all about sustainability,” said Juan Dominguez, general manager of Sodexo at University of New Haven. “The university is looking for initiatives to make campus as sustainable as possible, and most of the students have applauded the idea. We are also looking for a reusable to-go container and other initiatives the will help the waste.”

“Since I began my role here a year ago, I have been looking into sustainability options within dining, like reducing single use plastics such as straws, to-go containers,” said Laura Miller, director of energy and sustainability at the University of New Haven. “In working closely with Juan, I am happy to see that we are now starting to roll out some of these strategies beginning with the straws. We are looking at the way that the dining facilities use energy, water, waste, and other aspects of sustainability as we conduct a campus-wide sustainability assessment called STARS (Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System) offered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).”

This new policy is similar to the campaign from For A Strawless Ocean. They estimate that Americans use over 500 million straws every day. Straws often get accidentally left in the environment. Because of their small size, they “slip through the cracks” at plastic recycling centers. It is likely these plastic straws will end up in the ocean, and when they do, they break down into “microplastics,” causing harm to marine life. Strawless Ocean predicts that if nothing changes, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

Other schools are also taking the initiative to  reduce plastic waste. The University of Connecticut recently made the decision to replace plastic bags with environmentally friendly paper bags. The decision to rid dining halls of plastic straws is just the start of the University of New Haven’s initiative to cut down on plastic waste.