By Joshua Boucher
The following article is satire. While the environmental services provided by the university are real, the statements from students and administration were constructed from 100% post-consumer material.
The CAW student centre has discontinued the use of plastic straws and is now offering paper straws. Instead of consuming single-use plastic products, students can now happily consume single-use paper products.
This change of straw material came about at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, likely as part of the larger movement away from plastic products. Instead of contributing to the 0.02% of plastic water pollution that comes from straws, the university’s populace can now contribute to the 40% of industrial wood harvest associated with paper and paper products.
Global tree cover loss that results from this wood harvest contributes to worldwide habitat loss, species extinction, and increasing carbon concentrations, but students are now able to watch a video of a turtle with a straw up its nose knowing that the straw didn’t come from them. And ultimately, isn’t that feel-good moment what environmentalism is all about?
Student Reactions to Straw Substitutions
Many students are welcoming the change. Some of them have reported that the new straws are not only more sustainable but are also more aesthetic. A student from the Environmental Studies program has stated that the spiralling colours add “a little something-something” to the drinking experience, and remind them of their “carefree kindergarten days, before the existential dread and unbearable anxiety about the oncoming mass extinction event set in.”
Another student commented that the straws also add some taste to their once-bland drink. They stated, “I never even realized how devoid of flavour my Booster Juice was. Now, with the paper straws, I can have the added taste of soggy cardboard, chemical dyes, and industrial waxes. It’s honestly delightful.”
Facilities Respond to Needs of Today
Ron Jegier, speaking for the Facilities Services at the University of Windsor, reached out to comment on the change. “Our campus is very committed to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner. This change is a reflection of that commitment. Sure, we could have reduced plastic use by increasing the rate of recycling, but getting rid of the plastic is a lot more trendy.”
These efforts toward environmentalism don’t go unnoticed. There exist many organizations that track sustainability efforts of universities, such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). However, the University of Windsor has so far never achieved a high enough score to be awarded a ‘star’ from AASHE. The minimum score for a star is 25 out of a possible 100.
When asked to comment on why the University of Windsor has never been recognized in such a manner, Jegier crossed his arms, made a sour pout, and said, “Those guys are just being jerks. We do a lot here. Like, so much.”
Services for a Greener Campus
The university offers other environmental services as well. There is a spate of battery and electronics recycling deposits scattered throughout the university. These stations are perfect for your old smartphone that was designed to fall apart three days after the warranty expired, as well as that pile of dead batteries you keep collecting because you know they don’t belong in the trash but you also don’t know where else to put them.
If you want a straw that gets you more than a single use, you can also purchase a set of two stainless steel straws at the Campus Bookstore for $9.95, or for the same price, a set of ten from Amazon. The bookstore claims to match Amazon’s prices for books, but you might have to hustle them a bit to do so for the straws.
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