The University of Portland’s food service provider, Bon Appétit, will no longer provide plastic drinking straws in the Bauccio Commons or Cove, or any other food or beverage outlet on campus, effective April 18, 2018. Biology professor Tara Prestholdt and Bon Appétit’s Kirk Mustain point out that UP uses approximately 9,000 straws a month, which would stretch to over a mile joined end to end. That translates to over 13 miles of straws a year, which translates into more than 55 miles of straws over a typical four-year college span. Starting next year, every college graduate of UP will help prevent the use of enough plastic straws to equal the height of a 20,000 story building, stretch from Portland to Salem, or build a straw bridge across the Sea of Cortez. According to environmental studies professor Steve Kolmes, UP boasts the first University dining service in the U.S. to successfully institute a campus initiative to ban plastic straws.
Sustainability is a hallmark at UP. Shiley Hall is LEED Platinum certified; Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls are LEED Gold certified; and the Clark Library and Beauchamp Center are LEED Silver certified. Bon Appétit partners with local farmers when possible, and the University’s biodiesel processor converts used vegetable oil into biodiesel fuel. The University was also the first university on the West Coast to eliminate disposable plastic water bottles in 2010, and was honored as a Champion of Sustainability by McKinstry, a full-service consulting, construction, energy, and facility services firm with offices around the country, in 2015. Fr. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., joined 200 colleges and universities in signing the statement on the Paris Climate Agreement, and annually, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS), comprised of students, faculty, and staff, identifies continuous opportunities for sustainable objectives. Most recently PACS issued an Earth Day challenge to the UP community: students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to make a commitment to take at least one tangible step toward increasing sustainability on campus.