Vocal NUS students protest plastic straw ban in NUS by buying straws to throw away

Grasping at straws.

Guan Zhen Tan | November 19, 2018, 06:39 PM

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has kick-started a ban on straws to curb plastic usage.

The initiative, called iReject, comes in the wake of eateries in Singapore banning the use of plastic straws.

The initiative in NUS was launched on Oct. 17, and aims to cut the use of plastic in the various food and beverage outlets on campus.
Upon request, paper straws will still be given out though.


NUS students have been unhappy over the move.

Online environmental newspaper eco-business reported that sources close to the university have mentioned that sufficient warning was not given before the policy was rolled out.

Some students said they received an email about the initiative, only for it to be started almost immediately the next time with little transition time.

Much of these complaints were aired on Facebook page NUSWhispers, a page where (mostly) NUS students vent their frustrations or confess something anonymously.

One particular anonymous confessor even claimed to have bought S$10 worth, or some 1,000 straws, to throw away in the bins, to make a statement and in retaliation to the "thoughtless" campaign.

Another submission pointed out that the campaign's implementation was lacking in proper planning, and highlighted that supposedly more "eco-friendly" options being touted over plastic, such as paper or stainless steel metal straws, were not necessarily so.
Others accuse the campaign being fronted by environmental activists "forcifully (sic) imposing their will on the vast majority of the population".

Support for campaign

However, there were those who spoke in support of the movement, explaining that given the sheer amount of plastic wastage in Singapore, it is an important baby step.


One particular comment also highlighted that ultimately, what might turn anyone off from even considering giving up straws are those who are self-righteous about doing so.

This particular submission also highlighted that it's fine if people think it's not much of an impact, but the campaign can have spillover effects that lead people to more environmentally-conscious behaviour that can be demonstrated in other daily actions.

Student Union responds

The NUS Student Union has since responded to the fiasco with a statement addressing the concerns raised about the campaign.

In their statement, the union mentions that the senior administration acknowledges that early and proper consultation and communication would have avoided the issues stated by students.

They will be also be actively suggesting recommendations and mediation measures moving forward.


Dear fellow students,

With regards to the concerns raised about the iReject campaign, we would like to inform students that the Union is well-aware of the issue and is working closely with University Campus Infrastructure (UCI) and student-led environmental groups to work towards a smoother transition and better communication to all students.

During the Senior Management Dialogue, it was acknowledged by the senior administration that proper consultation and early communications with students could have prevented these concerns. Moving forward, the Union will be sharing students' feedback and actively suggesting suitable recommendations and mediation measures.

Top image adapted via Pixabay and Office of Campus Amenities' Facebook page