Teams Aims to Prevent Pollution by Straws
We sip from plastic straws without thought, but those single-use straws never go away.
An estimated half a billion plastic straws are used and discarded every single day in the U.S., enough to wrap around the equator 2.5 times. They contribute to 90% of all (plastic) trash found polluting lakes and oceans, and that waste is ingested by animals at an alarming rate. And since straws are not biodegradable, they will never break down in the landfill, but can leach chemicals into the groundwater.
With these sobering facts in mind, the twelve Green Team members at 1st Presbyterian Church in Marshfield decided to become part of the solution.
“Through our work over the past ten-and-a-half years, our team has learned a great deal about pollution and its effects on the Earth,” said Green Team members Jamie Siorek and Darlene Berry. Through educational forums and panel discussions on topics like frac-sand mining and oil pipeline expansion, the Green Team aims to be environmentally responsible and help others do the same.
That means encouraging local restaurants to go straw-free, and several have already signed on.
“We knew that the Kitchen Table already had a straw-on-request policy, the Brew Heron Brewpub owners are very progressive thinkers, and The Rivers Restaurant in the Holiday Inn and Convention Center were eager to look at this idea, so we began with these three establishments,” they said.
All three businesses including Oven Above the Pub agreed to join the movement and have taken other steps to become more environmentally friendly, such as using compostable take-out boxes over unrecyclable styrofoam.
The Green Team is in the process of contacting other restaurants to become a part of the initiative and spread the word about the pollution that straws cause. Each establishment gets informational table tents with facts about the issue and the straw-free initiative, and provide a straw for customers who request one.
“These establishments are well known in our community, and we hope their patrons will see our table tents or read the back of the Brew Pub menu and decide to go straw free whenever they choose to dine out,” said the team, which hopes that other restaurants will follow their lead and cut waste and expenses.
Even if not everyone decides to go straw-free, the Green Team hopes that the project raises awareness and that someday, the fast food industry would join the movement.
While it may take some habit-breaking, the team believes that most customers will be on board with the change. “Most of us do not use a straw when we are at home, so using no straw when we are dining is already a natural practice for many of us,” they said.