During the month of March we are highlighting our efforts on how we try to make our footprint as small as possible. About a year ago we wrote a blog about plastic straws and our efforts to eliminate plastic straws in our restaurant. Since then, we have completely switched to paper straws and often serve drinks with out a straw unless a guest requests it.

Here are some statistics from that blog article:

Did you know that 500 million straws are used daily?! Do you know where they go when you’re done with them? Most likely it’s the ocean. If we keep using plastic straws the way we are, then by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish…are you kidding me?! Straws can make it to the ocean because they were dropped, a gust of wind took it out of a trash can or car, they were left on the beach, and/or a rain storm pushed the straws (and other litter) into water ways and into the ocean. 

Most of the straws that actually make it to a recycling station will end up in the landfill. A plastic straw takes 200 years to break down! (check out this site to see how long it takes something to break down) Because of erosion, the bottom layer of a landfill, which may be one or more layers of clay or a synthetic flexible membrane or a combination of these, may break down. If the bottom liner fails, waste will migrate directly into the environment. The straws that are in these landfills may also reach our ocean through local water ways. In addition to this, seabirds that frequent open landfills may also ingest plastic straws.

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So what happens to all these straws that are in the ocean?
An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs, bringing their mortality rate to 50%. (Here’s a link to the video that you may have seen already. It breaks our heart to watch it but it's something that we feel people need to be aware of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw )

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Why don’t we just recycle the straws? 
While many plastic straws can be recycled, most are not. Some straws are made from #2 or #5 plastic, which is recyclable but is too lightweight and often don’t make it through the recycling sorter. Further, many communities don’t allow plastic straws to be recycled no matter the material. Like the plastic bag and soda can rings, straws fall under the category of “single-use plastics.” Single-use plastics need a different collection and processing system that most recycling companies don’t offer it. 

Why are we choosing to focus on something small when there are plastic bags, soda can rings and other harmful things in our oceans and environment?
Straws are among the top 10 items found during beach clean ups and can do so much harm to seabirds, turtles and other marine creatures. Plus, straws are an item of convenience for us, so if you don’t need to use this single-use plastic straw, then don’t.  We’re taking the pledge to refuse single-use plastic straws so that we hopefully will see a significant decrease in the number of straws found during coastal cleanups.

Please join us and take the pledge to #stopsucking. https://stopsucking.strawlessocean.org/i/e5a69fq. Say "no plastic straw, please" when you can and choose the alternative. If you like drinking out of a straw, opt for a reusable one! Check out the Final Straw. The have a mission ‘to create reusable, responsibly made, badass products that reduce the need for plastics, empower individuals to change their buying habits, and raise awareness of the impacts of our everyday decisions.’ You can purchase a metal straw that comes with a case so you can easily bring it with you.

A restaurant can cause a pretty big impact on the environment and we do our best to ‘go green’ where it’s possible. Changing out our plastic straws for paper ones doesn’t seem like it would make an affect on the tragedy happening in our oceans and water ways, but it’s one small ripple for a lasting affect and we’re ok with that.