No use symbol in red with plastic straws and fork

University campuses in Arizona are stepping up how they handle food waste and single-use plastic, according to an article on the Arizona Daily News website. All three University of Arizona campuses have composting and Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff is using reusable food containers and has banned plastic straws. Now, nearby businesses are taking similar steps.

NAU students say they want to make sure they are not contributing to the plastic in the oceans, according to senior Emerald McCormick, chair of the student run organization NAU Green Fund. The group provides funding — from a fee NAU students pay for sustainability — for projects that reduce the university’s environmental impact.

In January, NAU implemented a system at all the campus dining halls that allows students to use “green” food containers for to-go meals. (University of Northern Colorado has a similar program.)

Students pay a one-time $5 fee for a token, which allows them to check out a container. Students return the containers to a machine that stores them until they can be washed, and they get their token back.

The efforts are having an effect on Flagstaff businesses. NAU student Laura Diez says she wants to get half of Flagstaff businesses straw-free by 2020.

One local business, Single Speed Coffee Cafe, no longer uses plastic straws. Instead, patrons can get a paper straw and pay extra for a plastic cup.

At least 10 businesses have signed the Straw Free Flag pledge, and about 30 businesses now provide straws by request only.

Read the full article here.