No use symbol in red with plastic straws and fork on blue background. Plastic pollution is harmful to marine lives including turtle, shark and whale. Environmental concept. Ban single use plastic

The Inova Health System in Northern Virginia plans to eliminate plastic straws and reduce single-use plastic items in public areas, such as cafeterias and gift shops in all five hospitals in the system. According to a news announcement, Inova currently uses three million straws annually, equal to a mile of straws every day.

The initiative is part of Inova’s larger plan to reduce or eliminate all single-use plastic items including utensils, coffee stirrers, dishware and cups.

While sustainability is the goal, there are some products that can not be completely eliminated. For those, Inova is looking into environmentally friendly alternatives.

For example, although experts are encouraging patrons skip the straw all together, they will remain available, as they are an essential tool for disabled individuals. That said, plastic options have been replaced with a more environmentally friendly paper version that the system says is very sturdy and will last two to three drinks.

The focus on eliminating plastics is just the latest in a long string of sustainable initiatives at Inova. Each hospital also started employee "green teams" to promote environmental educational events. There is a green construction policy in place. They've instituted the use of Green Seal cleaning products and adopted a purchasing policy promoting environmentally preferable products.

For more information about sustainable efforts throughout the system, click here.