How much does your beverage experience change without the aid of a straw? If you haven't found out already, it's only a matter of time.
There's a rapidly growing movement in the food and drink world to eliminate single-use plastic straws from restaurants, bars, coffee shops and even airlines. Last week Starbucks announced that all 28,000 stores will be straw-free by the year 2020. Days later, American Airlines released a statement about its transition to bamboo straws and stirrers and "all eco-friendly flatware."
An organization called the Last Plastic Straw is leading the charge, and its research states that straw consumption in the U.S. is enough to fill Yankee Stadium more than nine times a year.
Ellwood Thompson's joined the club and has ditched plastic straws in favor of the compostable variety, and other local restaurants like Citizen Burger Bar and Laura Lee's have also been phasing them out.
F.W. Sullivan's Bar and Grille, the restaurant affectionately known around the Fan as Sully's," is one of the most recent local spots to hop on the bandwagon. According to owner Jake Crocker, it didn't start out as an environmental effort, but he's certainly happy to contribute to that as well.
"Plastic straws have always been a necessary evil in the restaurant business," he says. "But especially with a high-volume bar business, they just end up everywhere."
Crocker recounts finding the little plastic tubes all over the place — scattered across the bar, dumped on floor, even mucking up the restaurant's plumbing.
"Any time we had a plumbing issue we'd cut pipe out and it always looked like a honeycomb, the pipes always jammed with straws," he says. "If I'm having this much trouble with my plumbing systems because these things can't break down and get through the pipes, what's going on with straws getting out into the ocean, floating around, sitting on beaches?"
To gauge customers' thoughts, Crocker posted a question on Facebook a few months ago, asking if the removal of straws would ruffle any feathers. The response was overwhelming, he says, and everyone who commented was all for getting rid of them.
"Nobody was team straw," he says, which made the decision even easier. The restaurant's final shipment of plastic straws is behind the bar, available upon request. Once those are used up, Crocker says he's making the switch to compostable for anyone who wants them.