Brady Humphrey,Staff Writer
In recent months, numerous companies, such as Starbucks. have started to become more environmentally-friendly by discontinuing the use of plastic straws.
Sodexo USA, Utica College’s exclusive food service provider, also has a plan to cut out the use of plastic straws entirely. Campus DIning Services General Manager Damian Boehlert explained that UC has already started to phase out these straws.
“Currently, we’re just getting rid of what we have in stock while also building stock for these eco-friendly products,” Boehlert said. “Soon enough, we can move forward with our Better Tomorrow Commitment, which is meant for eliminating waste.”
Boehlert explained that plastic straws will be replaced by a new environmentally-friendly straw, in addition to other changes that he expects will begin to appear on campus by mid-to-late October.
“Styrofoam, for example, is something that we’ve already switched out, for the most part,” he said. “We’ve started using a styrofoam-like cup, but the only thing we use it for is hot chocolate.”
Another concept that Sodexo is working to change is the packaging of certain food items, to-go salad being an example. These items are typically served in a plastic container that looks clean so people can see the food in order to know nothing is wrong with it. Changing these products is considerably harder than manufacturing a new straw, as it would be difficult to get a similar quality of product as one would see with plastic.
“If you take the bad out of plastic, it’s actually pretty convenient,” Boehlert said. “What are you going to carry salads in, paper?”
An important aspect of these changes involves cost.
Typically, eco-friendly products cost more to manufacture and, therefore, to buy. Although UC is purchasing these products, the cost of them will not increase for any student looking to buy products that make use of plastics. Essentially, students will not have to do anything in order to make these changes more effective.
Many students are unaware of the upcoming changes, even though signs are posted around the dining hall that specifically advertise Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Commitment.
Shelby Curtis, a freshman who considers herself to be reasonably environmentally-friendly, was initially unaware of these changes, but believes that these new products are small steps that will make a big difference.
“I think it’s a smart idea to follow through with,” Curtis said. “It’s definitely good that they’re making the change and that people are becoming aware of it.”
Brandon Walencowski, a freshman, also did not know UC was taking these steps to be more aware of wasteful products.
“There are so many places all around the world that are environmentally-friendly with solar powered homes and stuff like that,” he said. “Everyone in the world is starting to change this and the fact that we’re doing it too makes us bigger and stronger.”
Freshman Kyle Beach also believes this change is a positive one.
“It’s cool that UC is starting to be more conscious of how wasteful plastics are and that we’re being proactive in changing what we use,” he said.