Several cities and towns across the country have banned plastic straws with many more to follow this year. Many cities are considering bans and implementing eco-friendly plans for restaurants to use green plates, cups, and straws for their to-go orders. Have you started considering using recyclable and environmentally friendly packaging?
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, 500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States, adding up to 175 billion straws per year. Plastic is not biodegradable, but instead photodegrades, meaning that it breaks down into increasingly minuscule pieces — microplastics — that can be ingested by wildlife and absorbed into the food chain. Some plastic can be recycled, but usually only once, and that is just a small fraction of the total plastic that is consumed. Though some communities get rid of plastic by incinerating it, this releases harmful pollutants into the air.
While most of the towns are coastal, the movement has started to move inland. As people are finding plastic straws, plastic silverware in lakes and animals. Water is being contaminated from waste.
What can you do at your restaurant?
Train your staff to ask people if they want straws. Most of the times, the straws just sit on the table or ignored.
Look into replacing your current plastic straws with eco-friendly ones. Several sites are now using paper or wood straws.
Shop local. Look around at where you are getting your supplies. Is there a small business or place in town that could use your business?
Use eco-friendly cleaning products. It’s super easy to switch from the toxic chemicals. It will be safer for your staff and just as clean for your customers.
Talk to your suppliers about changing your products to sustainable products. Most suppliers are already sending out and using eco-friendly products.
Change paper napkins to cloth. Seems easy enough, we know it’s more challenging. We get it, there is a lot in a napkin. All you can do is ask.
Before you start panicking about costs and changes, don’t worry, you don’t have to make all the changes at once. Try making some small changes, create a plan to start phasing out your old styrofoam. Talk to your suppliers, see what they are doing to become more environmentally friendly. Share with your customers why you are making the changes, let them know you want to reduce your impact on the environment. You will probably find most of them will be supportive.
As awareness grows, more sustainable and eco-friendly options are going to become available to you. Making small changes and having a plan to make the transitions more manageable for you and your staff. What are you changing today and how can we help?