By Sarah Pearce
Graduation season is upon us and if you’ve walked up the steps to Old Main in the past few weeks, you might have noticed small amounts of confetti or streamers gracing the grounds. Numerous students use the confetti to throw and take the perfect picture, but what gets into the drains isn’t as pretty.
Until recently, students and staff have shed light on how harmful these little colored pieces of paper actually are.
Colleen Cook, an Environmental Safety Specialist for Texas State, gives perspective as to why confetti is very harmful to the environment.
“Confetti like other pollutants is litter, whenever it rains and gets into the storm drains, it leads straights to creeks and rivers,” Colleen said. “There are close to 7 endangered species that are turtles and fish, in the San Marcos Rivers. When they consume this confetti, which is basically plastic it can kill them.”
When it comes to making students and photographers more aware of the situation, Colleen along with the environmental department has done numerous initiatives to shed light on the problem.
“It’s a fairly new problem, our department here at Texas State is trying to hit it hard and make people aware. An educational program we recently created for the storm water drains here is called the ‘What goes here, flows here’ program. It lets people know why it’s important to protect storm water,” said Colleen. “We also installed green and blue markers on campus grounds near the storm drains to make others aware.”
Since the confetti problem has risen in the past few months, Colleen made a Public Service Announcement on Facebook which got about 115 shares, along with an interview with KXAN, a local news station.
Colleen encourages students to use dustpans to clean up or lay a tarp down if they decide to use confetti.
“Some alternatives include wild seeds or wildflowers, a natural replacement that can go easily on the ground without harming animals in river. It’s a pretty easy fix to clean up after yourself,” said Colleen.
Recently Texas State University informed students about the problem by releasing an email warning about the hazards of confetti on campus and in the environment.