Students, environmentalists move away from plastic straws toward metal, reusable ones

Caroline Cummings

Environmentalists across the country, including University students, will participate in National Skip the Straw Day on Feb. 22 to bring attention to how single-use plastic straws affect the environment.

Even though this holiday is only in its third year, nursing freshman Bailey Ragan already has plans to celebrate. 

“I will definitely be celebrating by not using any straws and spreading the word about how awful they are for the environment,” Ragan said.  

Ragan uses her portable MyStraw, a reusable metal straw, instead of plastic ones. 

“I use it 24/7,” Ragan said. “(It’s) super convenient … I take it with me everywhere … There’s no reason to use plastic straws if you can reuse a metal one. They are just like any other kitchen (utensil) you use.”

The Skip the Straw movement gained attention in 2015 when Christine Figgener, a Texas A&M University marine biology student, posted a video showing her colleagues pulling a straw out of a bleeding sea turtle’s nose, according to “National Geographic.”


Abigail Patridge, a Plan II and biochemistry freshman, also uses a reusable metal straw but said it is not the most convenient.

“It can’t fit in my water bottle, but I also don’t want to put it in my backpack without some sort of a protective cover,” Partridge said. “However, I think that in order to overcome the most pressing environmental issues, we must sacrifice convenience.”

Partridge said she is disheartened by pollution caused by single-use plastic straws.

“They are the epitome of waste mentality: use once, dispose and ignore the consequences,” Partridge said. “Environmentalism shouldn’t be a hot trend. It should be a large scale, cultural shift.”

Other students, such as neuroscience freshman Anthony Varner, will not participate in Skip the Straw Day. 

“(Plastic straws) are vilified,” Varner said. “They are not that bad. We just (need to) dispose of them properly.”

Avery McKitrick, director of the Campus Environmental Center, said plastic straws are unnecessary, except in special circumstances for people who depend on them to drink independently. 

“There are a number of (plastic straw) alternatives that can, and should, be utilized,” McKitrick said. “However, I absolutely recognize the need for straws in special circumstances for people who really need them. After all, sustainability is the intersection between environment, economy and equity. Nobody should be left out of that picture.”