Many things have changed since COVID-19 has taken over the world. Trying to prevent the spread of the virus has limited many day to day activities, specifically restaurants ability to maintain the same level of service (prior to the pandemic). Contamination is more likely to happen in the food industry because customers cannot always keep their masks on. In addition, colleges provide dining options for students, daily. So, the question is, what lengths has ONU come up with to prevent contamination between students (and workers) within the dining hall.

If you were to walk into the dining hall at McIntosh there you will be a specific walkway with social distancing stickers on the floor leading you directly into the dining hall. After swiping your student ID, you are directed to grab a plastic grocery bag which contains a plastic cup and plastic packaged silverware for you. Then you’ll see more stickers and roped off areas leading you to a food station, where you walk up and tell a worker what you would like. As they grab your food they put it into a plastic to-go box. If you were to go to another station they have to give you a new plastic to-go box, as well.  

Moreover, a lot of plastic is being used and being thrown away at the dining hall on campus. Given the example, let’s say only freshmen and sophomores are eating at the dining hall, which is approximately 1,000 students who eat three times a day and they only take one to go box and one grocery bag. That makes 3,000 plastic to-go boxes, 3,000 plastic cups, 3,000 plastic grocery bags, 3,000 plastic spoons, 3,000 plastic forks and 3,000 plastic knives being thrown away everyday only from McIntosh’s dining hall.

Curious to know how the students, faculty, and employees feel about all of the plastic I went and got some feedback. Sophomore Bailey Gibson had a good point when he explained “The plastic has turned into a domino effect causing garbage to overflow and litter to be everywhere from students taking food to go. I am very frustrated to see all of this plastic, and it to not be recycled”. Going on to talk to a dining hall employee Jeannie Blevins, she expressed that she agrees there is a lot of plastic but in her perspective the bigger picture was more important, explaining that it is for the safety of everyone at ONU and sometimes there is a “consequence” to doing what’s best and just so happens in this situation the overload of plastic would be the down fall. Lastly, talking to sophomore forensic biology major Benjamin DePrest, he stated “It is very unnecessary. I feel so wasteful, I get a couple to-go boxes every meal because not one station has everything”.

After conversing the controversial topic with students and staff and eating at McIntosh myself, I personally agree there is too much plastic, everywhere I looked there was plastic and it needs to go. Growing up my family has always recycled, my absolute favorite was collecting every single pop can in the house and going to the bottle returns, my family always had fun with it.  However, here at ONU, there is no way to know if it is all being recycled. For instance, when students take their food to-go you cannot be certain the plastic is being recycled. From my perspective, I think ONU needs to re-think and understand how huge of an impact the plastic is doing and possibly consider paper plates so that even if not recycled they are still biodegradable and not toxic to the environment. What do you think? 

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