Progressing Beyond Plastics: Clark Promotes Reduced Plastic Use

Trash from inside a Clark trash can. A peek inside a Clark garbage can. Dylan Turk/The Indy

California passed a new law restricting restaurants from serving drinks with plastic straws unless customers ask for them. Lance McIntire, manager of Clark College’s Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS), is very familiar with the new law.

“Ask yourself ‘can you reuse it instead of toss it [in the garbage or recycling bin]? Do you need plastic straws?” McIntire said.

He said he believes limiting plastic straws is good for reducing plastic consumption on campus. Although it is not something the EHS has talked about much yet, McIntire said it’ something he would like the college take on.

McIntire said banning plastic straws entirely may not be the answer, since senior citizens and others need straws. Instead, McIntire prefers a policy that limits and discourages the use of plastic straws.

Clark already takes steps to reduce plastic usage, the newest addition being water bottle refilling stations located around campus.

The refilling stations reduce plastic water bottle waste of 221,000 bottles so far in 2018.

Outside of plastic reduction, Clark uses recycled paper across the campus. Mcintire estimated the EHS uses 60 percent recycled paper and intends to increase over time.

“The college wants to do a better job of informing and educating Clark students about ways that the college or students can be more environmentally friendly,” McIntire said.

One way the college already does this is through bi-weekly sustainability bulletins and offering sustainability workshops, where both plastic and paper consumption are talked about.

Clark College plans to integrate more education about plastic consumption into College 101 and science courses, hoping it will help students make more environmentally conscious choices when making purchases.

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