Five years ago Mike and I sat having a beer at the campus pub (a rare occasion). Sitting at the bar we could see servers pouring empty glasses of ice and straws into the sink at the service bar. I told Mike my story about being a restaurant manager and how my bar sink would back up every week or so. I’d have to get out a wrench, get on my knees and take off the elbow pipe below the sink. Without fail the pipe would be full of straws that had gotten stuck on their way down the drain. Since then I’ve hated straws!
It was then that we started advocating against the use of straws in restaurants, we even had t-shirts made(photo above) and started using the hashtag #strawssuck. There are 500 million straws used every day in the USA. Yes that is a true stat and I’m always in awe of that number each time I quote it. Straws create pollution in every stage of their existence from the drilling of oil needed to make plastic to the use of delivery trucks to ship them. This isn’t the worst part believe it or not. Plastic straws are not recyclable and they photo-degrade as opposed to biodegrading. This means the suns UV rays break them down into smaller pieces of plastic but they are still with us and much of this ends up into our water systems putting aquatic life in danger. Our ‘very informal’ research shows that the useful lifetime of a straw is approximately 14 seconds. Yes the average glass of pop, juice, or iced tea in a restaurant needs 14 one second sucks to finish it off yet the straw will remain with us for 600 years.
So why write another blog post about straws 5 years later? Well, because progress is being made! Plastic free Guelph has rallied some local Guelph restaurants to go ‘straw free’ for Earth weekend 2017. Here is a link to their website with some great info about how #strawssuck http://www.plasticfreeguelph.com/services-1/
Now we asked ourselves if you can go a weekend without serving straws (we’ve even seen a company have a ‘strawless September’) why not a permanent move to stop using them in your restaurants? Well the good news, many responsible restaurants have started doing this. Charcoal Group of restaurants based out of Kitchener/Waterloo made the move last year. Two other restaurants we are familiar with Farmhouse Tavern in Toronto and our very own PJ’s have not used straws since 2012.
Not all the movements we advocate on behalf of are getting better but #strawssuck is definitely one that we feel is heading in the right direction. Please contact us if you know of a restaurant that is ‘straw free’ as we’d like to show our support for them. And most important of all; the next time you order a soda in a restaurant, ask the server not to bring you a straw….or even better, do what Mike and I would and order a beer!