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University to phase out plastic straws next semester

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Student Grace McGrath’s push for a plastic straw reduction has succeeded: it was passed with a majority vote by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), and received the go-ahead by University Auxiliary Services.

Next fall UAlbany’s campus won’t have plastic straws widely available.

McGrath is a Social Media Communications and Programming Intern for the Center for Leadership and Service at the University at Albany,  and began her campaign to cut down on straw consumption this past December. She presented to the Student Association senate last month that straws pollute waterways and ecosystems

UAlbany student, Ofu Takor, had mixed feelings on the initiative, “I think it’s very noble to want to do that, but when it comes down to it, it’s not the most effective thing we can be doing with our time. And we don’t really have a lot of time when it comes to global climate change. I would like to see us stop selling plastic water bottles or encourage students to stop using plastic in other ways.”

Some students were concerned for the disabled community on campus and their ability to be provided with plastic straws.

“There’s always questions about disability, they will be there during the whole rollout,” said McGrath. “My boss (Mary Ellen), is connected with the head of Disability Resource Center (DRC) and we’re going to make sure they are represented.”

Upon request, any student with disabilities will be provided with a plastic straw.

Although there will be a drastic reduction, UAlbany’s GSA and UAlbany’s Student Association is still looking into what will be replacing plastic straws. They’re currently looking into providing students with metal or bamboo straws, due to the many durability problems found with paper straws.

President of UAlbany’s Student Association, Langie Cadesca had no comment regarding fees, the financing for this initiative is still being researched.

“Our water is polluted and we are consistently using items that aren’t biodegradable because they are the cheaper option,” said Cadesca. “Money shouldn’t outweigh the safety of the living creatures on this planet.”

Now that McGrath has succeeded in passing this initiative for the university, she is looking to take it statewide. She hopes to have a meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo by the end of the semester.

“All credit for this goes to her, although the other entities of the Green Scene certainly support this change,” said Mary Ellen Mallia, director of the Office for Environmental Sustainability. “I greatly admire her persistence and work in researching issues to provide recommendations for change.”

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