Many students are now aware of the fact that UConn’s Dining Services is in the process of switching from plastic straws to a more environmentally conscious choice. This change could not come soon enough. Plastic straws are, for the most part, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable. Add in the fact that they usually only get used once and you have a recipe for waste on a massive scale. Americans alone use 500 million straws every day. It would stand to reason, then, that an effort to stop this waste would be met with open arms from the student body.
However, much of the reaction has been negative. Not because anyone thinks the new paper straws are worse for the environment, but because they are more inconvenient to use. Some have even expressed a desire to bring plastic straws back.
If this is the case than there is an extraordinary lack of perspective among students. Thinking that a slight inconvenience when ingesting a beverage is worthy justification for going back to something that is terrible for the environment is ridiculous. This is especially true when we consider what people around the world have to go through to get clean drinking water, something we take for granted. When put into perspective, the struggles of using a paper straw don’t seem all that bad. We must be willing to make sacrifices to protect things we care about, and if we are not willing to make a small concession like this, it bodes ill for the world.
Besides, people should understand that this is a transitionary process. As with any transition, adjustments will have to be made to placate all involved parties. These adjustments may take some time, and in the meantime students will have to live with it. Patience is a virtue, and it would behoove students to use some when it comes to this endeavor. If they are really concerned over the new straw quality, researching potential alternatives would be a much better way to spend their time than complaining.
People don’t have to fawn over the new straws, but they should understand the importance of making the switch. Plenty talk the talk when it comes to preserving the environment, but what matters is what students choose to do when presented with an opportunity to make some sort of difference. Complaining about paper straws does not reflect well on the student body. Students should either learn to live with the new straws, or make helpful suggestions about how the situation could be improved.