You may have seen the viral video on You Tube showing a single-use, plastic drinking straw being removed from the nose of a Costa Rican Sea Turtle. If not, you can go to www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org to check it out. The video is painful to watch because the afflicted creature is clearly suffering and the cause is so obviously generated by wasteful human habits.
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. That is a huge number of straws; enough to fill 125 school busses! Once found mostly in Soda fountains of the 1930’s, straws have come to be expected with every beverage served. And while there are some legitimate reasons that some people need single-use straws, for the most part, they are unnecessary.
Because of their size and light-weight, straws do not usually make it into plastic recycling streams. They go into landfill where they take centuries to break down and emit toxic pollutants into the earth and ground-water. Or they go into the oceans where they become dangerous to marine life.
Plastic straws are just the tip of the plastic iceberg. And the issue of plastic straws has been taken up by environmental activists as a “gateway” to raising awareness about the monumental, global problem of single-use plastics in general. Choosing not to use plastic straws is a first step that we all can take in the direction of curbing the use of single-use plastics.
At Standing Stone Brewing Company we have a commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. Long ago we gave up on petroleum-based, plastic drinking straws in favor of biodegradable, corn-based straws. However, the biodegradable straws still require an inordinate amount of time to break down in landfill and are still at risk of being washed into the ocean.
Now we are going a step further. Standing Stone Brewing Company has joined with the City of Ashland and Recology in participating in the “Straws on Demand” program. This pilot program will be kicked off on May 14. Participating restaurants will make straws available on request. The pilot will run from May 14 to August 14, 2018. Participating businesses are requested to take notes of the reduction of number of straws, on customers’ reactions, and to staff reactions.
We recognize that as food-servers we have an opportunity to help educate people about the dangers of single-use plastics. So, while we will continue to give straws to guests who prefer to use them, we will not be bringing a straw with every beverage. We welcome our patrons and guests to join with us in reducing unnecessary, single-use plastic waste.
For more information about the “Straws on Demand” pilot program, visit www.Recology.com/Recology-Ashland.