The anti-plastic straw movement has gone mainstream this summer, with businesses across the nation and the Triangle adopting policies to reduce their plastic waste.
UNC’s Sustainability Office is working across campus to reduce the presence of all types of single-use plastics. Chapel Hill restaurants such as Carolina Brewery, Crossroads Chapel Hill, Starbucks and Perennial Cafe, have started phasing out plastic straws in some way — and more are likely to follow their lead.
Crossroads Chapel Hill, the Carolina Inn's restaurant, is implementing a policy to only provide plastic straws and stirrers upon request. Michelle Voelpel, marketing and public relations manager at the Carolina Inn, said in an email if eliminating something as small as a plastic straw makes a change in the right direction, the Carolina Inn wants to be part of that shift.
“The onus is on each of us to make a positive difference in this world,” she said.
Voelpel said they have seen an overwhelming positive response, and this is just the beginning.
“We are in the process of finding a replacement straw, which we plan to roll out within a few months,” she said.
Vivian Le, a sophomore cultural studies major and sustainability minor at UNC, said she thinks the movement has gained so much momentum because of the way it’s advertised.
“The pictures you see — a straw and a tiny, cute, little animal — they make it really striking,” she said. “The way it’s being portrayed is hitting people’s emotions more. Straws with cute, little animals – nobody wants to hurt that. Before, it was just an environmental thing, so people didn’t really care as much.”
Le said she thinks UNC is doing a good job reducing plastic waste, but there’s always room for improvement.