Did you know that each year 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans, which is equivalent to one garbage truck dumping its contents into the ocean every minute of every day? A big part of that plastic litter are straws. Recently, avoiding straws has been gaining a lot of traction and UT is wanting to raise additional awareness on this important environmental movement! Below we answer common questions about straws and encourage you to join us for a Strawless September throughout all Vol Dining facilities!
Why can’t I recycle my straw?
- Most plastic straws are too lightweight for mechanical recycling sorters, meaning they drop through the sorting screens, then mix with other materials and contaminate the entire load
- If they do make it through the sorters, plastic straws are made out of a certain kind of plastic that is only accepted at very few recycling centers across the US
How do they get into the oceans?
- Because of their lightweight material, often they can blow from trashcans and enter the waterways, and all storm drains lead to the ocean
- Often, they are littered and left on beaches in many coastal communities
- Once in the oceans, an estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs, resulting in a 50% mortality rate
How many are being used daily?
- According to National Geographic, in the United States alone, 500 million straws are used daily
- An average person will use 38,000 straws in 60 years
- It is estimated that by 2050 there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish
What alternatives are there?
- The best alternative is to either get a reusable straw to use again, or avoid the straw all together
- Paper straws and compostable straws are a great alternative, however make sure you dispose of them correctly. If compostable straws do not get placed directly in the compost, they have the same negative effects as a plastic straw
- At restaurants, be sure to order your drink without a straw
What is UT doing?
- At all Starbucks locations, be sure to ask for a Strawless lid
- Aramark operations has removed 100 million plastic straws a year, which equals over 12,000 miles, which placed end to end is enough to wrap half way around the world
- Campaigns like “Strawless September” are to help bring awareness to the UT community about why avoiding straws are to important. Help us spread the word and make your September (and year) Strawless!