Opinion: TCOM 312 is #skippingthestraw, and you should too

In Washington, we are beyond lucky to live in the most beautiful state in America. From the gor­geous evergreen trees to the beautiful waves of the Puget Sound, we live in a state of pure bliss. However, when we look around and see man-made pollution ruining Mother Nature’s gift to us, it needs to stop.

My boyfriend recently took a com­munication class right here on campus — TCOM 310: contemporary envi­ronmental issues and the media — and he taught me all about the #skipthes­traw movement. In this movement, people obviously skipped the straw not only to save the environment from the use of plastic, but also to save the cute little critters. The plastic can sometimes end up in the oceans, where it can accidentally be consumed by marine life. As passionate as he is about this small movement, it gave me the epiphany that I am ignorant to the needs of Mother Nature.

To educate myself on this dilem­ma, I talked to senior lecturer of cul­ture, arts and communication, and instructor of TCOM 310, Dr. Ellen Moore. Moore invited me to her TCOM 312 course, ecology, inequal­ity and popular culture, to ask any questions I had involving the #skip­thestraw movement or any other environmental safety concerns.

Moore’s class is participating in the #skipthestraw movement — which challenges them to go without a straw for the whole spring quarter as well as to call a company and ask them to serve alternatives made from anything other than plastic.

As I talked to her class, they all seemed extremely passionate about the challenge. Jack Payment was one of these students.

“It’s more than just skipping straws — it’s trying to avoid using all plastic that is not reusable in every course of our lives, so like buying food or eating out at a restaurant,” Payment said. “On a macroscale, most of the plastic ends up in the ocean, even if it gets broken down. It’ll end up in the turtles, it will end up in the whales, and it will end up in the seagulls too.”

Crimzon Heinrich, another student in TCOM 310, started to actively re­volve her life around this challenge.

“I am reducing my plastic intake as much as I can. For instance, I am not going to coffee stands and using any plastic — so no cups, no lids, no straws,” Heinrich said. “The alternative is to bring your own grocery bags, burlap bags and mason jars for bulk items, and just reducing as much plas­tic and packaging as possible.”

In efforts to be environmentally friendly, Antonio Gonzalez found #skip­thestraw to not only be healthy for Mother Nature, but for himself as well.

“I’m mindful about how I think about it, because every time I buy something, I have to remind myself if it is plastic or not,” Gonzalez said. “As far as the straw, I’ve stopped fast food and everything, so I’m actually losing weight.”

As I finished up with the class, in complete awe with what I had learned, I discussed the challenge with Moore.

“I’m so incredibly impressed with my students for taking on the chal­lenge with such energy and dedication. The world is starting to wake up quickly to the devastation that plastic is wreaking on our oceans, and seeing my students try to navigate a plastic-free life (with all the challenges and hurdles) gives me hope for the future,” Moore said.

Educating myself on a subject I was completely sheltered to, I have started the challenge myself. I have eliminated the use of straws, while also using burlap bags while I grocery shop. Although I am still using some plastic, I have slowly started to shy away from it.

My challenge to the UW commu­nity this week is to #skipthestraw. If you go to a restaurant or a coffee stand, try to avoid as much plastic as you can. Sure, straws are fun, but the prob­lem they’re giving marine life is not fun. Straws aren’t necessary when we are hurting the environment and caus­ing pollution to the places that we love. Use alternatives to plastic straws like reusable cups or paper straws.

Remember: #skipthestraw and you’re one step closer to saving the world.