SFU’s decision to phase out single-use plastics is a good one

More institutions need to step up and commit to positive changes for the environment

SFU is among the many institutions pledging to eliminate plastic straws, among other plastics. Photo: Agency France-Presse

By: Naaz Sekhon, SFU Student

This September, SFU is acting in support of a ban on plastic straws. Led by a task force including the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), the university is set to eliminate single-use plastics from its campuses. Their action plan includes two phases: Phase 1 (starting this September) involves removing plastic straws and replacing plastic utensils with metal ones; Phase 2, which is scheduled for 2020, addresses single-use beverage cups, plastic bottles, and coffee pods. SFU’s action plan is notable as it not only includes a plan to reduce plastic waste, but it also has a plan for implementing programs to reduce container waste at Mackenzie Café. 

Importantly, SFU will still take into account people with disabilities — bendable plastic straws will still be available if required for accessibility.

As a student, I fully support SFU’s decision to reduce single-use plastics. It makes me happy to know that I attend a university where meaningful actions are being taken to help save the environment. Knowing that SFU considers people with disabilities further demonstrates that their plan is considerate of everyones’ unique situations. Their decision to be more sustainable sends a great message that shows dedication to climate crisis changes. 

Although banning plastic straws may seem like a minuscule step to resolving the current climate crisis, the benefits are impactful when examined on a larger scale. In Canada alone over 3 million tonnes of difficult to recycle, single-use plastics are thrown away annually. This translates to millions of injured or dying wildlife through ingestion or entanglement when these plastics inevitably end up in our waterways. By reducing plastic waste, not only are we prioritizing animal life, but our oceans and beaches will be cleaner as well.  

The current climate situation is slowly being seen as a priority by businesses under increased pressure from climate activists. Through their activism, young people have increasingly shown that they value putting the climate first. This has resulted in companies, such as Starbucks, opting to pledge their commitment to save the environment by phasing out plastic straws. It’s gratifying to know that our university, having similar environmentally-conscious ambitions, is taking a step in the right direction in accordance with these companies.

Responsible and positive change towards addressing the state of the environment has to begin somewhere. We are currently seeing the shift from concern to action in the policies and commitments of more and more institutions and governments. Hopefully, SFU’s action plan will also promote and instil sustainable habits in the students who graduate from this university.