While the Gainesville City Commission waits until Jan. 1 to start a plastic straw ban, six UF students decided to take matters into their own hands with a petition. They want a plastic straw policy in Midtown.
Brianna Barone, a 22-year-old UF telecommunications senior, and her group started the petition on Change.org called “Save the Straws Midtown.” With a goal of 1,000 signatures, the petition has 59 as of Sunday night.
The students propose establishments offer straws to customers only if asked, Barone said. She said the group hopes this will lead to less straws being wasted by customers.
Barone said she started the petition with a group of students when they were tasked with creating a campaign in one of their classes.
The petition defines Midtown as 16th Street to 18th Street and University Avenue to Northwest First Avenue, she said. The group hopes to convince restaurants and bars to implement the straw policy, including Tijuana Flats, Fat Daddy’s and Relish.
The group found inspiration from Satchel’s Pizza. Mark Rodriquez, the manager at Satchel’s Pizza, said he finds it easier to give customers straws only upon request.
“We just feel that straws are pretty wasteful and unnecessary 100 percent of the time,” Rodriquez said.
The petitioners also created an Instagram account called @ufstraws to help reach their goal.
Barone said the project made her think more about her own plastic consumption and the environmental impact of such wastefulness.
Plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose and are very bad for marine life, Barone said. She hopes to further reduce plastic waste by encouraging students to buy reusable straws, wooden utensils and glass containers.
“I am hoping that we can change more than just straw use, but reduce plastic items all together,” she said.
Correction: The story has been updated to reflect that the plastic straw will be enforced starting Jan. 1.