Starting today, plastic straws will no longer be welcome at Ellwood Thompson's, the independent organic market near Carytown.
The health food store is banning single-use plastic straws, noting in a release that they are "one of the most pervasive forms of plastic waste, and incredibly destructive to our oceans and environment. Too many, completely unnecessary for beverage consumption, end up in our oceans. They are especially harmful to marine animals and fish due to their small size and lightweight."
According to Colin Beirne, marketing director with the company, the ban is part of a sustainability overhaul that also recently introduced a bag share program encouraging customers to use reusable bags (borrow a bag, return a bag).
The store is replacing plastic straws with compostable straws made from non-toxic, agricultural by-products and annually renewable plant-based materials, which require less energy to produce. Ellwood Thompson's will be partnering with N.O.P.E. (Natural Organic Process Enterprise) to make sure their biodegradable products "are handled correctly and end up in a compost facility for environmentally beneficial use," according to the release.
In addition to compostable straws, Ellwood’s shoppers can purchase reusable stainless steel straws -- or hey, you could just drink that smoothie straight, no straw.
"As far as single-use plastic straws, we are trying to spread the word about the pollution in our oceans in Richmond," explains Beirne. "We are seeing this topic discussed on the worldwide stage and feel that change needs to happen here in Richmond. We hope this initiative will start the conversation within our community."
He adds that the store is also launching a compostables bin program this week in concert with introducing compostable straws.
"Most of our packaging is compostable and breaks down in industrial compost bins," he adds. "Shoppers will now have the option to place compostable items in this bin (it doesn’t incorporate food scraps because that is too difficult, public facing). We compost food scraps in the back of house."