Issue: We need to think bigger than paper straws to be sustainable

Collegian Staff

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There are many ways to fight global warming and to promote sustainability.

One of the most fashionable ways right now is the use of paper straws.

According to National Geographic, 500 million straws are used daily in the United States. More than 8.3 billion plastic straws end up on the world’s beaches. While that might seem like a large figure, that’s just 0.025% of the ocean’s pollution.

“People are trying to find the part that they can work on and what they can do, and I’m in favor of that, and I’m going to help and support (it), but understand this is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we are all talking about,” 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren said in a CNN Townhall. “They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws and around your cheeseburgers.”

While the personal efforts to combat recycling are important, it should be easier to follow guidelines for citizens.

One of the biggest issues with recycling comes when we put the recycling into the bin. Oftentimes, we put recycling in a plastic bag then dispose of it.

This isn’t allowed. Per the SDSU Recycling Guide, plastic bags are required to be thrown in the trash.

On campus, efforts to promote recycling have been ramped up.

Every year since 2011, SDSU has competed in an event dubbed “RecycleMania,” which is an eight-week contest among national colleges that compares recycling efforts across the country.

Last year, SDSU finished 125 out of 190 participating schools in the Competition Division. When it came to total recycling, SDSU finished 86 out of 215 schools. When compared to the 2012, when the school earned a last-place finish, the progress is apparent.

However, we at The Collegian believe that we can even improve upon these efforts. One way to do this is to cut down on the usage of plastic bags. In big cities, such as Washington D.C., New York and Portland, Maine, bag fees are charged.

Some cities took it even further and banned plastic bags.

Brookings and South Dakota State University should look into this practice as well as other incentives for recycling.

States such as Iowa, Michigan and more have implemented a beverage container deposit. The deposit charges five cents per canned and bottled items. To obtain the deposit, one must return the recyclables to the store they made the original purchase.

Whether the incentive requires spending or receiving money, people are more likely to recycle when the motives are put in place.

“The authors conclude that state bottle deposits and recycling laws foster recycling behavior, and that more stringent recycling laws increase recycling rate,” according to The National Bureau of Economic Research.

SDSU needs to take further steps in sustainability, one of those being composting. Recently, the Student Union offered compost-able straws, but nowhere to place compost.

At Harvard University, the campus collects compost-able items from residence halls, offices and dining centers, which are then used to produce renewable energy.

Compost can include landscape clippings, food, napkins, coffee grounds and any products labeled as compost-able.

SDSU is home to all of those items, which means composting is right around the corner, along with many other sustainability opportunities.

In the long run, SDSU would benefit financially from investing in sustainability on campus.

The Collegian Editorial Board meets weekly and agrees on the issue of the editorial. The editorial represents the opinion of The Collegian.