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Drinking straws dumped in Tofino after community drive

February 22 2017

Do bars and restaurants really need to serve drinking straws? That’s the question being asked by Tofino-based restaurants and their answer is an emphatic ‘no’.

While plastic bags have been a much-targeted area in the drive to reduce plastic waste, the Pacific Rim chapter of the Surfrider Foundation found that drinking straws were an often-unnecessary single-use waste item.

Speaking to CanadianRestaurantNews.com, chair of the local Surfrider chapter Michelle Hall explained that whenever people were served a glass of water with a plastic straw, it would often be picked out and left on the table unused.

A campaign called ‘Straws Suck’ was launched by the group, accompanied by an online video questioning why straws are even necessary.

“We kind of made fun of the idea of having to use straws. Restaurants loved it and they picked up on the idea right away,” Mrs Hall told CanadianRestaurantNews.com.

Reactions

Wolf in the Fog became the first Tofino restaurant to sign the pledge against drinking straws and this started a rapid domino effect.

Before the campaign launched, 25 of the town’s 40 food service establishments offered straws to customers. Today though, every restaurant in Tofino has pledged to remove plastic straws from its inventory.

Restaurants reacted to the move in different ways. Some chose to run their stocks dry, others dropped them immediately, while some straws were donated to local schools for art projects, as well as a nursing home in Victoria, B.C.   

One restaurant reckoned it went through around 12,000 straws every year. On top of the cost savings and environmental benefit, dumping straws has helped keep the beach cleaner and free from litter.

Removing straws from beverages has reportedly gone down well with guests, while those unable to drink directly from a glass can request a biodegradable straw.

Surfrider chair Michelle Hall took pride in the fact drinking straws were virtually wiped out from the area’s bar and restaurant scene without legislation or government intervention.

“It was boots on the ground, knocking on doors,” Mrs Hall said. “We’re finding our community is really engaged, it takes a community to make this work.”

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