I was on hand Tuesday (February 2) when the ACPS Environmental Stewardship Committee was formally introduced to compostable straws, which the good folks at Food and Nutrition Services are considering to replace plastic straws in the school cafeterias. The cost of these straws is roughly the same as for common plastic straws, but their use might help ensure that cafeteria waste destined for compost isn’t contaminated with non-compostable plastic.
Now, a quick survey for parents: do your children use drinking straws at home? If your answer was “no,” or “not usually,” “not often,” etc, then I must ask: why should they use them at school, exactly? And what kind of trash-culture habits do students learn from a drinking-straw habit?
I know of no strongly persuasive argument for the use of drinking straws for milk at school–not that there aren’t weak arguments. But in terms of solid waste, the Eco-City Charter correctly orders its priorities: reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery (composting, waste-to-energy, etc), and disposal. Yet here we are skipping straight past the first three higher uses, settling for composting, in an educational setting.
Convince me that straws are indispensable–so to speak–and I’ll readily accept the compostable sort. Much better would be to take the line item for drinking straws and put it toward more worthy Eco-City goals.
Skip the straws, people!