Five hundred million plastic drinking straws are used each day in the United States. That’s 182.5 billion straws each year. Because plastic straws are not recyclable, they eventually end up in our landfills, as litter on our streets, or clogging our streams and waterways.
One block of Lexington restaurants and bars is taking a big step to change that. Led by local restaurant and pending Green Check member, Minglewood, several venues along North Limestone are reversing that trend. Last month, Minglewood held a “Don’t Suck in January” campaign to encourage patrons to opt out of straw use.
Trish Tungate, owner and manager of Minglewood, estimates that they use about 50,000 straws in a single year. Joining Minglewood are two other downtown restaurants, Corta Lima and Oscar Diggs, who have also reduced straw use. If all three locations adopted a “no straws” policy, an estimated 150,000 straws a year, or 750,000 in five, would be eliminated from our waste stream. With fellow block mate Sidebar going “upon request only” for straws, Tungate says theirs is the first block to make a collective effort to reduce the number of plastic straws being used in Lexington.
For those outside of the restaurant industry who are interested in expanding the no straws initiative, Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, suggests encouraging the restaurant managers at your favorite eateries to serve straws only upon request and consider switching plastic straws to reusable or *compostable options. Nuñez also suggests leaving an info card with your bill. With straws in the top 10 items consistently polluting our environment, these behavior changes are an easy way to take a step in the right direction.
To learn more about the Green Check program and how your business can receive recognition for your efforts to increase sustainability, check out lexingtonky.gov/GreenCheck or contact Noel Osborn at noel@BgGreensource.org
*Please keep in mind that compostable options are almost completely ineffective in cities that do not have City serviced composting. Lexington is one of these cities, meaning that compostable straws, to-go boxes, and utensils are ineffective unless added to the compost bin at a private home or private business.