• Cheri Newcomb

Hold That Straw!

Hold The Straw

The commitment to refuse plastic straws in your daily routine has taken a new turn as you dine out at your favorite restaurant and request, “No straw, thank you” to the server. You even bring your own glass straw to use. Your server brings your iced tea and you notice the plastic straw protruding from the crushed ice! Many are discussing this common occurrence as they share with each other the ways of learning to eradicate single-use plastic habits from their daily choices.

Grasping At Straws

Why are we focusing on straws when plastic straws make up only a fraction of the evils of single use plastic pollution, with plastic bottles, bags, and cups taking up so much more volume in our waterways and landfills?

Straws, considered the “gateway plastic,” are a good way to begin noticing how much plastic we accept, and an easy start to change our ways to opt for non-plastic and reusable alternatives. Single use straws are used and discarded, often several times a day, by straw users on a global scale. This is a large percentage of the total population! Notice in your own circles how many use or refuse straws, especially in restaurants.

Plastic straws, made out of un-recyclable polypropylene, are unnatural in shape and size and are hazards to wildlife. The straws that accumulate on beaches and in our waterways become problematic to birds and marine life that ingest this toxic material. It leaches harmful chemicals into the environment by way of our water and our seafood. In turn, humans consume these toxins.

While numerous “beach cleanups” continue, from large organized events to individuals that pick up plastic straws and volunteer divers are gathering straws from ocean floors… then what? Since the straws are not recyclable, the lesser of two evils is to send them to the landfill. As plastic accumulates, what affects will there be for our children’s children to solve? Stopping straw use, manufacturing and distribution will curtail these problems.

Dining Out

One comment on Instagram by someone requesting no straws for her party of five, noticed that straws were included in the four other beverages! She concluded that addressing the request must be clearly communicated to the servers in advance.

Restaurants that include wrapped straws with your service-ware propose another challenge. Customers will most likely need to have the Host or Hostess alerted before your party is seated because once the straw is placed on the table and patrons are seated, many cannot replace the straw into the supply by law, even when the straw is wrapped!

Organizations are quickly educating establishments on options to replace plastic straws with paper straws or serve straws only on request, slashing the number of problematic straws that make their way into the environment. “Straws Upon Request” and “Ocean Friendly Restaurants” provide support and print materials to encourage individuals to take up the subject with their favorite establishments.

Bring Your Own Straw

Pack and carry your favorite reusable straw! This creates conversation around the topic of choice – that plastic straws are unacceptable. Cities such as Malibu, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Miami Beach have been successful with ordinances and bans prohibiting plastic straw distribution. California and Hawaii are following with state mandates and Scotland, Ireland, Bali, and Costa Rica are just a few of the countries putting restrictions in place. These efforts are expanding and more restaurant servers are encountering the “no straw” request. If this is the first time your server has heard of this request, and you end up with that dreaded straw, rest assured the experience paves the way for future thought about these utensils that we once thought nothing of accepting into the mainstream of our culture.

Find some great solutions and ideas to carry reusable straws on Etsy!

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