Celebrate Earth Day by going ‘straw-less’ at these Hampton Roads restaurants

A participating restaurant in Suffolk will be handing out paper straws this Earth Day. (Southside Daily/courtesy of askHRgreen.org)
A participating restaurant in Suffolk will be handing out paper straws this Earth Day. (Southside Daily/courtesy of askHRgreen.org)

Hotter days are right around the corner and with that comes cold drinks and inevitably straws.

In an effort to curb the rampant straw usage, two regional green groups have set their sights on getting local restaurants to participate in a “Straw-Free Earth Day” event.

Going straw free for Earth Day (Monday)  is sponsored by Keep It Beachy Clean and askHRgreen.org, a one-day campaign focused on raising awareness about the environmental effects of single-use plastic straws which are ranked among the top 10 most littered items by The Ocean Conservancy.

“Plastic straws are made of material that is designed to last for decades, yet they are generally used for less than 30 minutes and then thrown away,” said Christina Trapani, program manager for the Keep It Beachy Clean program. “Straws that enter our waterways can break up into smaller pieces over time, persisting for years, endangering sea turtles, birds and other marine life that can mistake them for food.”

So far there are 60 restaurants signed up across Hampton Roads that will participate in the straw free day, Trapani said.

Trapani and Rebekah Eastep from askHRgreen.org said the funding raised by askHRgreen and Keep It Beachy Clean will pay for the displays restaurants can use to promote the event.

Restaurant owners can request window clings, tabletop signs and social media graphics with messages such as “Thanks for skipping the straw. You just kept a seahorse from looking trashy.”

“This event is an opportunity for restaurants to try giving straws only on request,” Trapani said.

The restaurants will have paper straws to offer diners who simply can’t go without their straws.

The straws will be supplied through the Aardvark Company and 100 paper straws will go to each restaurant.

“We want to change the paradigm of automatically getting a straw and instead only getting a straw if you ask for one,” Eastep said.

In addition to inviting restaurants to ditch the straws on “Straw-free Earth Day,” Trapani encourages individuals to opt out as well, by taking an online pledge, letting servers know they don’t want a straw, or bringing their own reusable sipper.

“If you can, bring your own reusable straw or just go without it and enjoy your drink while you help Keep It Beachy Clean,” Trapani said.

Restaurants are also using Earth Day to try out the straw-free initiative to see if it’ll work with their business model, Eastep said.

She and Trapani hope the initiative will show restaurant owners how easy it can be to go straw-free.

To see a full list of participating restaurants for Straw-Free Earth Day 2019, click here.

To learn more about why you should go straw-free, click here.

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