Effort to stamp out plastic straws begins in Snohomish
SNOHOMISH — Plastic straws are the new foe of environmental activism group Green Snohomish.
At a kickoff meeting June 23, members began a campaign to cut back on straws, a single use plastic that Americans toss 175 million times a day according to marketing analysis firm Technomics.
Green Snohomish isn’t reaching for a city ban, but is taking the moderate route of education and outreach.
As of July 1, Seattle banned restaurants from offering plastic straws. The metropolis joins Florida and California cities, including Malibu, Calif., a Snohomish-sized city that banned straws June 1. Alaska Airlines and Bon Appetit cafes have also banned the ubiquitous plastic tubes.
But how to get Snohomish to just stop sucking?
“We’re not against straws, just trying to educate people to minimize their use of plastic straws, there are all different kinds” of alternatives, leader Lya Badgley said.
Today, food service vendors offer everything from compostable single use straws to washable, long lasting metal and glass versions.
Some straws are even edible. Manufacturers market corn-based, sugar-crafted and other specialty types. And avid movie-goers know that a licorice whip straw may offer the pinnacle of soda sipping pleasure.
Badgley said Green Snohomish plans to reach out to restaurants in town and see if they would be receptive to learning about ways to use less plastic straws.
One simple option is to let customers ask for a straw, or have servers offer one, rather than automatically serving straws with beverages.
The initiative should be a win-win for the environment and restaurant owners, Badgley said. Using less straws cuts inventory costs for restaurants, and participating in the campaign may draw environmentally aware customers.
Green Snohomish will be branding the campaign, coming up with a logo and materials to promote the plan and give restaurateurs something to put in their window or online to advertise themselves as eco-friendly.
Some Snohomish shops are ahead of the curve on this issue.
“Let’s talk straws...” reads a recent post by the recently opened Center Public House nonprofit pub. “We can’t claim to be about making the world a better place and ignore some of the small things ... From the start, we’ve wrestled with what to do with the straw situation.”
The pub opted to use biodegradable paper straws, and wrote that they work great.
At Grilla Bites organic café on First Street, owner Anne Dottai said she has used compostable straws since opening 10 years ago.
She even has customers who bring in their own reusable straws.
Dottai said one challenge has been finding straws with a wide-enough diameter for smoothies, but she thinks she has found a solution with a U.S.-based supplier and is waiting on a delivery of samples to be sure.
For more information, Green Snohomish is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greensnohomish
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