OUR LAST STRAW
Americans use millions of plastic straws a day. Those straws litter our streets, lands, shorelines, and oceans. Plastic drinking straws are among the top 10 contributors to marine debris pollution. They do not biodegrade but break down into smaller microplastics that have made their way into our food chain and the deepest trenches of our oceans. The research and statistics on the impacts of plastic straws across the globe are alarming. News articles are appearing regularly on what plastics do to our environment, our health, as well as efforts and innovations across the globe to eliminate and ban single-use plastics straws.
As major distributors of straws, it is imperative the hospitality industry leads the charge for change working to protect our planet and everyone on it.
Our Last Straw is a coalition of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, event venues, and organizations across the DC metropolitan region and beyond on a mission: Eliminate single-use plastic straws.
Led by Dan Simons and the Farmers Restaurant Group (Founding Farmers, Farmers & Distillers, and Farmers Fishers Bakers), Our Last Straw (OLS) is an important contributor to global efforts to address single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution, starting right here in and around our U.S. capital.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Encouraging individuals to make a pledge to #StopSucking and skip the straw.
Eliminating single-use plastic straws.
Educating our communities on the environmental & health hazards of single-use plastics.
Reaching out to NGOs to participate in our campaign.
Working with local municipalities and government leaders to introduce legislation to ban plastic straws.
Switching to biodegradable paper straws, reusable straws, or no straw at all.
In all of our efforts, Our Last Straw is mindful that plastic straws may be a necessity for many people with disabilities. All changes in business practices and laws will include accommodations for those requiring plastic straws and will not place greater burdens on people with disabilities who need to use a plastic straw.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE, ONE STRAW AT A TIME
Not using and not distributing plastic straws may seem like a small gesture, but it has major environmental impact. Not distributing or using plastic straws is a fundamental step to protecting the future of the planet and everyone on it. It’s also an effective way to raise awareness, which is critical to making a long-term change.
Single-use plastic straws are handed out to restaurant guests by the millions each day. Eliminating their distribution is a critical step to reducing single-use plastics worldwide. In addition, each delivery, or lack of delivery, is an educational opportunity, and an ideal place to build awareness and create a more environmentally conscious population.
Conversations about straws with guests, colleagues, and suppliers can lead to larger discussions about plastic pollution; the giant garbage patch in the ocean; plastics found in fish and seabirds; microplastics and the food chain; and how to protect the earth and our health. The collaborative work of Our Last Straw is building a framework for future efforts -- local, national, and global -- by the hospitality industry to influence everyone in our communities to curb our reliance on other single-use plastics (including To Go containers, plastic bottles, ingredient packaging, and beyond).
Centuries ago, straws were made of gold. Then, they were straw, a stalk of rye grass to be exact. In 1885, Marvin C. Stone didn’t like the taste or residue the rye straw left in his mint julep. He experimented with various ways to create an alternative straw by wrapping strips of paper and glue around a pencil, and patented his straw in 1888. His factory, the Stone Paper Tube Company, was established right in our nation’s capital, in Northeast DC, in the still-standing Stone Straw Building.
America’s love and near obsession with plastic straws did not begin until the late 1960s, as a byproduct of the growth of the fast food industry. It was a logical need: To Go cups with covers and straws. What wasn’t logical was its transfer back into the sit-down restaurant industry.
Yet straw use continued to grow and expand across the hospitality industry. Currently, plastic straws make up about 99% of the $3 billion global drinking-straw market. Most straws are single-use plastic that is not biodgradable.
Many drinks don’t actually need straws. Yet, if you take a seat in most American restaurants, you will be given a straw with every beverage served, including water.
As major dispensers of straws, the hospitality industry can significantly reduce plastic straw pollution, and many restaurants and hotels across the world have already begun to make changes, using paper straws or, not providing straws at all.
For example, Farmers Restaurant Group made a switch from compostable straws to paper straws that decompose in just 45-60 days. In just one year in just one restaurant, they have eliminated over 340,000 plastic straws from the DC trash stream.
The hospitality industry holds the power to dramatically reduce plastic straw pollution by saying NO to what has become a nationwide custom: The automatic plastic straw in your drink, even your water glass.