STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – In January of 2019, California became the first state to ban plastic straws in diners and restaurants unless specifically asked for by a customer.
Likewise, Seattle was the first major city to enact a similar law.
Locally, a few area businesses and institutions are taking a similar stance in an effort to limit unnecessary waste.
Rick’s Cafe in Starkville has recently announced plans to stop using all plastic and styrofoam by the end of this year.
Mississippi State University is also making strides to educate its student body on the importance of recycling.
“We’re keeping straws out of the ocean, we’re keeping styrofoam off the side of the road. Nobody likes to see that, and it’s not going to be coming from here anymore,” said Rick’s Cafe General Manager Ryan Handran.
Handran said the business decided over Christmas break to try and make a difference with new eco-friendly products such as cups, straws and to-go containers.
“We’re getting rid of all the styrofoam and replaces it with stuff made from sugarcane. All of our straws are made from actual straw now, like hay straws,” said Handran.
Costumers don’t seem to mind the product change.
“Using the paper products in the way they’re using that now makes you feel like you’re actually being a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said Rick’s Cafe patron Ellie Vaughan.
Just up the road at Mississippi State University, steps are also being taken to better the environment. On average, the University recycles over sixty-thousand pounds of trash per month.
“Mississippi State is one of the leading schools in the state as far as being conservative and being conscience about going green and having a good understanding of that with all the new changes going on on campus. So I think other schools should take notice of that lead by example,” said junior, biology major Hal Stokes.
Even though the changes are good for the Earth, they don’t come cheap. In fact, some restaurants are paying up to 3 times more for sustainable products.
“Twenty-five years ago young Rick probably wanted to make a million dollars. Today Rick is probably going to settle for making a difference,” said Handran.
On the whole, those concerned with the impact of plastic products hope to see the trend catch on.
“I hope that other people follow suit. I was a bartender myself and I know how much waste goes into the plastic and all of that so I hope that they follow suit,” said Vaughan.
“We just hope that not just people in Starkville but all across Mississippi and across the country join in on this,” said Handran.
The MSU Office of Sustainability says when it comes to recycling, containers with food or liquid in them can ruin an entire batch of recyclables.
They say it’s important to empty those containers before placing them in a recycle bin.