Skip the Straw
Momentum is building with the global movement to ditch plastic drinking straws. In Cleveland, the Skip the Straw campaign is being promoted by the Sustainable Cleveland Plastic Reduction Working Group. Sustainable Cleveland is a 10-year initiative by Mayor Frank Jackson to encourage residents and businesses in Cleveland to be environmentally conscious.
Last month, Melt Bar and Grilled announced that they would be joining the Skip the Straw movement and will not automatically serve a plastic straw with beverages. Melt is committed to do their part to help curb the use of single-use plastics and help Cleveland and Lake Erie's environment. Also this month, Starbucks announced that it would stop using plastic straws by 2020. This is a big deal, and will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from the earth! Hopefully other large food retailers will follow suit, and other local restaurants will follow Melt.
Plastic drinking straws are used on average for 30 minutes each. Every day, 50 million fast food meals are served in America – that is a LOT of straws.
Plastic straws are not only a huge polluter of the environment and waterways, they also harm the environment in their production. It takes oil to make plastic, and during the production process greenhouse gasses are emitted.
Transporting straws to their destinations uses more energy, which emits more greenhouse gases. In the end, straws are used for such a short time and so many end up in our environment and polluting water (including Lake Erie, which contains a very high level of plastic pollution) that they are really not worth the harm they are doing.
What can you do? You can ask for your drinks without straws while you are eating out. I know this is difficult to do, and I don't always remember, but I am trying – and every straw that you refuse absolutely helps. It helps that you didn't use that straw, and it also helps because the people you are eating with may ask you about why you refused the straw and the server may report to management that customers are refusing straws.
You can also talk to restaurants you go to and ask management if they would consider joining Melt in not serving straws automatically. It helps to have such a popular local restaurant commit to doing this, and other restaurants may be interested in joining Melt. This is how we create change through our simple actions!
There is an online meme I have seen a lot that reads, “'It's only one straw' said eight billion people.” It's not only one straw. We can all make a difference and while it's not always easy, it is simple.