KAMLOOPS — It’s estimated that in North America, over 500,000,000 straws are discarded every day. That accounts for around 1,400,000 kilograms of plastic which makes its way into landfills. As a New Years Resolution, one Kamloops restaurant is ditching plastic straws, in the hopes of lessening their environmental footprint, and possibly setting an example for others in the community.
It’s something most diners take for granted. Nearly every cold drink ordered at a restaurant or bar that isn’t a beer almost inevitably comes with a plastic straw; at the Noble Pig, they’ve changed that practice.
“We ask the question ‘can you recycle straws?’,” The Noble Pig’s Restaurant Manager Sara Froese explains. “I did a little more research, and it turns out straws, by and large, aren’t really recyclable, or at least aren’t easily recycled.”
Single-use plastic straws almost always find their way into the landfill, which is why the staff at The Noble Pig decided, as a group, to stop putting plastic straws in the drinks they serve unless customers explicitly ask for one.
“With the team already behind it, I suggested doing it as a New Years resolution,” Froese says. “The owners were on board, they were actually in Tofino when [that community] did their ‘Straws Suck’ movement.”
According to the US-based anti-straw The Last Plastic Straw, 80% of all debris found in the ocean is discarded on land. Of that material, between 80 and 90% is made from plastic.
“About 10 to 20 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans every year,” Laura Sampliner, Sustainability Program Coordinator with the City of Kamloops says.
Along with asking your server to skip the straw when you eat out, Sampliner also suggests other ways consumers can help reduce the waste we send to the landfill.
“If we’re looking from a consumer perspective, you can bring your own bags to grocery stores, you can bring your own reusable mugs or cups,” Sampliner suggests.
For staff at the Noble Pig, it didn’t take long for the New Years resolution to get noticed.
“We were closed January 1st, and when we reopened on January 2nd, on our first table that came in, a gentleman ordered a coke and said ‘please, no straw.’ We said ‘turn our little initiative card around’ and he was blown away,” Froese recounts. “We were also really blown away that was his New Years resolution.”
While the new policy has been well received by customers, the staff understand that some people either need straws or prefer using them, which is why the restaurant is taking it one step further.
“Because we’ve cut down so much on our single-use plastic straws, we’ll be bringing in biodegradable straws for the drinks and the guests that need or want them,” Froese says.
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