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Spaghetti sticks stir up debate at Langara College café

Lollipop Moment Café claims raw pasta greener, cleaner option than wood

Feb. 20, 2017 -- Students like new stir sticks at Lollipop Moment Cafe, Langara. Violetta Kryak
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Reported by Violetta Kryak

The Lollipop Moment Café at Langara College is using raw spaghetti as coffee stir sticks in an attempt to reduce waste and promote an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

This is the first instance of spaghetti used as stir sticks at Langara, though UBC campus has used them for several years. The manager of Lollipop Moment Café, Tahai Zhog, said he uses spaghetti because it is easily compostable. He also wants to ensure cleanliness, since he doesn’t know how wood gets treated before becoming stir sticks.  Plus, the change has been popular.

“Everybody loves it. That’s why we keep using spaghetti, although the cost is higher than using the wood,” Zhog said.

Experts say two types of stir sticks hard to compare

The question of which type of stir stick would be better for the environment is a tough one, as experts would have to compare the impact of cutting down trees to the impact of growing the grain, and possibly using chemicals and pesticides.

“I’m not familiar with any studies off the top of my head that say one is better than the other,” said environmental studies coordinator Katrina Erdos. “And those kinds of evaluations are hard to make. Spaghetti should be sustainable, and so should be the wooden stir sticks.”

A potential issue for students is the fact that the spaghetti used by Lollipop Moment is not vegan, GMO-free or celiac-friendly. Zhog, however, is not worried.

“If the person’s intolerance is that severe, they are facing risks all around, not just in our spaghetti,” Zhog said. “I started using spaghetti last term, so far nobody said ‘That gluten is going to kill me.”

Some students find the change charming.

“I think it is so funny! It is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen! It’s good, it’s something different,” said business management student Laura Duong.

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