Although Florida Southern College has supported sustainability incentives around campus in the past, offering plastic cups and straws at Wynee’s Bistro takes away from the significance of promoting greener on-campus alternatives.
SGA senators in the SGA Food Committee worked with campus administrators in order to increase the amount of recycling bins, access to clean water and to ensure that paper straws are being distributed throughout campus instead of their plastic counterparts. However, this year came with a lot of changes.
As a former member of the SGA sustainability committee myself, seeing plastic cups distributed at such large quantities for one-time use makes me feel as if there’s a giant road-block on the way that prevents FSC from becoming a sustainable campus.
On top of offering plastic cups, the school was offering plastic straws for some time at the cafeteria as well. All of the other on-campus dining options offer paper straws, which is why some people were confused when they saw the plastic straws.
This year, administrators decided to change the dining style in the cafeteria to a la carte, which helped reduce the amount of food waste and helps keep track of the food that students are taking.
Last year, students were able to select food items in a buffet-style setting when they visited Wynee’s Bistro. They served their food on non-disposable bowls, plates and served their drinks in non-disposable cups. Now, students pay for their food based on an a la carte option, and although students still use non-disposable plates, the school now offers plastic cups and straws.
Vice President of Finance and SGA Senate sustainability committee head John Jack Lewis clarified that if there were any straws at the cafeteria, that they are just leftovers from what they have in storage.
“The school only purchases paper straws,” Lewis said.
According to Food Service Director Tim Raible, the use of plastic cups accommodates the a la carte dining style. Offering plastic cups supports the a la carte dining style because cups can be stored behind the cash register and students can leave the building with the disposable cups.
Plastic cups are also used in order to accommodate the new Steak ‘n Shake. Steak ‘n Shake is a new dining option on campus and uses plastic and paper cups. Since Wynee’s changed from being buffet-style to a la carte, plastic cups make it easier for students to re-fill their cups.
“If you go to Steak ‘n Shake and you want a coke, you can go to Wynee’s and [re]fill it,” Raible said.
Although it’s easy to understand why the school decided to start handing out plastic cups in order to promote the new dining style, it’s disappointing to see them choose the easy way out. FSC students are interested in greener alternatives. Although most students dislike the paper straws because they turn soggy and make it hard to drink smoothies and other blended drinks, some have expressed interest in owning reusable metal straws.
“Paper straws are an okay alternative,” FSC Senior Mark Haver said. “Metal, bamboo, and kelp straws are all better because they are less likely to degrade in your drink.”
The option to replace paper straws and decrease plastic cup usage is feasible if the students had the school made the option to use reusable cups and straws available to them.
Lewis suggested to sell reusable straws at the Moc Mart in a meeting that he had with Raible earlier in the year. However, he found that students can’t buy reusable straws with their points.
“We cannot sell plastic straws with points [at the Moc Mart] because the way which points work, they’re untaxed,” Lewis said.
He suggested that FSC should offer the option to purchase the reusable cups with real money so that students are aware that they have the option.
However, the school and SGA could explore other ideas. Tutu’s Cyber Cafe sells reusable cups for hot drinks, so what if the school were able to sell reusable cups that they could use throughout different on-campus dining locations for cold beverages?
For example, if students went to Wynee’s Bistro and bought drinks, what if they had the option to buy the drink with a reusable cup and then bring it every time they wanted a drink instead of getting a new cup?
They could bring their cups to Boar’s Head Deli or to the cafeteria and just pay regular price for the drinks. Since meal plan has left students with an influx of points, they shouldn’t mind paying a little extra for a reusable cup once.