KOCHI: Many organisations are joining Kerala’s New Year resolution to go plastic-free. Cochin University of Science and Technology is leading the way by setting up the first-ever canteen in the country to use only steel straws. The idea to replace the plastic straws was put forward by Smile Makers, an NGO comprising Cusat staff, students and alumni.
Students on the campus are thrilled to be a part of the eco-friendly initiative and all praise for the college authorities who are aiding the campaign. “It has been three months since we started using steel straws in the canteen. All of us have a responsibility towards nature. We may think that since plastic straws are small, they are not causing much harm. But imagine hundreds of straws being discarded by people around the country each day. That could be tonnes of plastic,” said Rachel Poulose, a Photonics student at Cusat.
“Steel straws are definitely more eco-friendly, as they can be reused. The only concern we have is regarding hygiene,” she says. However, Smile Makers has assured that the straws are cleaned and reused properly. “We trained the canteen employees to clean and sterilise straws after each use. Initially, 200 straws were bought online and used as a trial. The management is now planning to buy more straws as the beginning response has been great. All of us here are keen to see how the state will respond to the plastic ban,” said Ramees Rahman, a PhD scholar and a member of Smile Makers group.
“We are organising awareness campaigns and workshops within the campus to educate students, faculty and non-teaching staff about the need to go green. We have planted tree saplings across the campus. We are the first university to accept the Trash tag challenge, one that prompted students to clean up surrounding green areas and post before and after photos,” he added.
“We are planning to become a completely plastic-free campus soon, by avoiding all kinds of plastic use or litter on campus. The idea is to use eco-friendly alternatives. Introducing steel straws in the college canteen was part of this initiative. We are glad to see that the students are cooperating,” said Jayashankar, public relations officer, Cusat.