The State College Area School District has decided to phase out plastic straws in an effort to reduce waste. Megan Schaper, the district’s director of food service, was making the menu for Earth Day when she came up with the idea to get rid of plastic straws in the new State High cafeteria.
“It’s just a little that I think we can do – that everybody can do – to help with the plastic pollution problem,” Schaper said. “Plastic straws are not recyclable. There’s nothing that happens to them other than they go into the landfill and plastic takes at least 500 years to break down.”
Schaper looked into paper straws – too expensive – and re-usable straws – too hard to clean, so she decided not re-stock plastic ones when they ran out. Schaper said she hopes the decision will get students to think about reducing waste.
“We grab the plastic disposable item without any thought at all and I think we do need to be a little more thoughtful about it,” Schaper said.
Americans threw away more than 33 million tons of plastic in 2014 according to an EPA report. Schaper’s decision comes as entities like Alaska Airlines, University of Portland, and national food service Bon Appétit move to ban plastic straws.