If you’re served your favorite smoothie, soda or iced coffee this month at a local restaurant, you might notice that something is missing – a straw.
New Castle County Council recently passed a resolution in recognition of “No Straw November” to raise awareness about the need to reduce single-use plastics including grocery store shopping bags, plastic cups, and those pink and white-striped drinking straws.
Plastic Free Delaware leads initiative
The organization behind the initiative, Plastic Free Delaware, has spearheaded efforts to convince restaurants that offering plastic alternatives is better for the environment and good for business.
The November campaign encourages dining establishments to voluntarily provide plastic straws by-request-only. It also aims to educate the public on issues related to a ‘throwaway culture’ and encourage citizens to ‘skip the straw’ whenever possible.
Growing number of Brew HaHa! customers are eco-friendly
The local coffee chain Brew HaHa! has signed on to the program and recently started selling branded Keepcups and metal straws for $2 each in all 10 of their cafes in Delaware. Already, more than 1,000 have been sold in the first month.
Owner Alisa Morkides says the restaurant hasn’t banned plastic straws altogether but the company is committed to continuing to reduce its environmental footprint.
“I began seriously reducing my waste earlier this year after being inspired by what other businesses were doing to be more environmentally friendly,” said Morkides. “And we knew that encouraging our customers to take part was the next step for our shops because we really want to be part of the solution.”
Customers will also receive 10 cents off their drink at BHH when they use a travel mug or a china mug when dining in. BHH donates all cup discounts per quarter to a different charity, and in Q3 they raised $1,400 for charities.
Anti-straw movement is growing across country
Americans use an average rate of 1.6 plastic straws per person per day, which equates to over half a billion plastic straws discarded in Delaware each year. And the anti-straw movement is taking on tougher forms in cities across the country. Cities like New York, Seattle and Miami Beach have pending straw ban legislation.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with New Castle County and Brew HaHa!” said Dee Durham, chair and co-founder of Plastic-Free Delaware.
Less than a year underway, the Plastic-Free Delaware initiative has reached 75 Delaware dining establishments, which Durham says have begun to offer straws to customers only upon request.
Honeybee Kitchen and Market in Trolley Square uses paper straws for their smoothie bar, “and our customers seem to love that,” said owner Karen Igou. Grain, Harry’s Savoy Grill, BBC Tavern & Grill and Capers & Lemons are just a few of the dozens of restaurants supporting the initiative.
“This is really a win-win-win as restaurants save money on the reduction of purchasing plastic straws as well as in plumbing calls from clogged drains. And our environment, communities and wildlife also win,” she said.
The impact of plastic straws on the environment and marine life has been shared widely over social media. Disposable straws land in the top ten items picked up on beach cleanups. This video of a distressed sea turtle struggling with a plastic straw made the rounds on YouTube a few years ago. https://youtu.be/4wH878t78bw