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College student raises concern over campus dining hall practice with photo at meal: '[Don't know] why they felt the need to do this'

"Why don't they use stainless steel cutlery and wash them, like we do in the UK?"

"Why don't they use stainless steel cutlery and wash them, like we do in the UK?"

Photo Credit: iStock

More than one student has criticized plastic cutlery for its wastefulness and lack of usefulness. A Redditor's college cafeteria took things up a notch by wrapping what appears to be plastic in even more plastic. 

What happened?

A college student shared a photo of a seemingly plastic spoon with its head wrapped in flimsy plastic. 

"My college's cafeteria individually wraps spoons like this," they wrote in the subreddit r/Anticonsumption. "The other silverware isn't wrapped, idk why they felt the need to do this."

"Why don't they use stainless steel cutlery and wash them, like we do in the UK?"
Photo Credit: Reddit

"Why don't they use stainless steel cutlery and wash them, like we do in the UK?" one person wondered. "Here, all single use plastic cutlery will be banned from sale from October 2023."

Why is this important?

The original poster didn't speak to any college-run recycling initiatives, so it's fair to wonder whether these wrappers were simply ending up in landfills or as litter. 

Many plastics are recyclable, which can make a dent in the issue. Yet thin films — like the one in the OP's photo — generally aren't accepted via curbside recycling programs, making it more likely they'll end up in the trash bins. 

Ideally, the flow of toxic waste would be stopped or slowed down. However, since the early 2000s, plastic production has skyrocketed. 

According to the U.N. Environment Programme, the volume of plastic waste grew more in a decade than it had in the past 40 years. Now, we generate more than 440 tons of plastic trash annually. 

Much of it ends up polluting our oceans and communities, ruining picturesque scenery, harming or killing wildlife, and leaching harmful chemicals into our environment. Microplastic ingestion has been linked to myriad severe health issues, including dementia and cancer.

Why would the cafeteria wrap only spoons in plastic?

Multiple commenters speculated that it was the college's attempt at keeping items sanitary. 

"Probably the concave surface holds dust and or contamination more than a [fork] or knife would," one person wrote

"I started seeing individually plastic wrapped EVERYTHING after [COVID-19], and we still haven't gone back," someone else pointed out.

What can be done about plastic waste more broadly?

Students in one New York school district led a successful campaign to phase out certain plastic products, including single-use water bottles and plastic wrapping for fruits and cookies. 

Their efforts highlight how taking local climate action can lead to meaningful dialogues and policy changes for a healthier future. 

While many schools in the United States ban metal cutlery for safety reasons, advocating for compostable cutlery or bringing your own from home can help eliminate plastic waste. 

Other plastic-free alternatives for everyday products include reusable sandwich bags and dissolvable dishwater pods.

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