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  • Michael Oshman

Scaling Back on Straws

500 million straws are used in the U.S. every day, over 182 billion each year, and a majority of those are from restaurants. Restaurant consumers have created a “No Straws” movement in order to keep these items out of our waterways. This pressure has persuaded cities such as Seattle to ban straws, with New York looking to follow suit. Large restaurant chains, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, are promising to get rid of plastic straws altogether. With the sudden rise of consumer awareness, many restaurants are probably wondering how they can make the transition away from plastic straws, too.

Here are four recommendations for reducing or ending plastic straw use at your restaurant.

Straws Upon Request

This means you will not give your customers straws unless they ask for one. Add signage in table tents or on your menus to communicate this change to your customers. By only offering “straws upon request”, you are not only helping keep harmful plastic out of the environment, but it can also help you save money. Offering straws upon request can earn your restaurant 3 GreenPoints™.

Download suggested GRA signage:

Green Disposable Straws

Instead of using plastic straws, try greener disposable options, such as paper or compostable straws. To find these types of straws, call your distributor to find out what options are available to you. For compostable straws, make sure they are BPI certified or 100% biobased. If your straws are compostable make sure to compost them, and always recycle your paper straws. Compostable straws would earn you up to 1.25 GreenPoints™, and paper straws could earn you 3.5 GreenPoints™.

Here is video clip from the documentary STRAWS that features a restaurant owner who switched to straws upon request & paper straws:

Reusable Straws

Offering reusable straws, such as metal straws, is a better option than offering any type of disposable straw. Very few of your straws will end up in the landfill, as opposed to paper and compostable straws. Using reusable straws at your restaurant could earn you up to 4 GreenPoints™.

The Last Straw

There’s always an option of getting rid of straws altogether. You will be making a huge step towards lessening our dependence on plastics, and your customers will notice.

For Consumers:

  • Bring your own straws to restaurants

  • Refuse plastic straws if they are offered to you

  • Encourage your favorite restaurants to move away from plastic straws

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