Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten-year old boy asks: Do you need that straw?

I just learned that plastic bag manufacturers use animal fat to make the bags slippery. As a vegan, that is another good reason for me to skip plastic bags. But what about another ubiquitous plastic good - drinking straws.

According to the Ban The Bag! blog plastic drinking straws have been around since the 1960’s. Americans use 500+ million plastic straws each day. McDonald’s alone uses 60+ million plastic straws worldwide each day. Plastic straws are one of the top ten items collected by volunteers at the annual International Coastal Cleanup.

Several years ago I started asking restaurant servers to bring out my ordered drinks without plastic straws. A friend who bartends recently went an entire Friday night without distributing a single straw. My friend decided not to serve a drink with a straw in it unless the customer had specifically requested a straw - and no one asked for a straw! In fact, one woman specifically said that she did not want a straw when she ordered her drink.

Ten-year old Vermonter Milo Cress is having an even bigger impact on the issue. Milo started the campaign Each One Reach One to encourage people to order their drinks without straws, and to help people convince their local restaurants to serve straws only upon request from the customer. In response to a letter from Milo in May 2011 Vermont Mayor Bob Kiss issued an official proclamation declaring Offer-First as a Best Practice in Burlington, Vermont. In effect the proclamation asks restaurants city-wide adopt the practice of offering straws to customers rather than putting one in every drink.

For more check out this short TV news story featuring Milo, his September 2011 CNN video interview, or explore Milo's website Be Straw Free. You can also help promote the campaign by using reusable glass and stainless steel plastic straw alternatives while out enjoying beverages with friends!

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