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Anne Baker, co-owner of Finnegan’s Wake, says customers are responding positively to the restaurant cutting down on straws.
SBJ File photo
Anne Baker, co-owner of Finnegan’s Wake, says customers are responding positively to the restaurant cutting down on straws.

Concern over plastic pollution has restaurants kicking straws to the curb

Posted online

Globally, and right here in the Ozarks, restaurants are scrapping straws.

The James River Basin Partnership, White River Brewing Co. and Queen City Pub Crawls this week announced The Last Straw initiative, encouraging businesses to use alternatives to plastic straws or do away with straws and stirrers, according to a news release.

“The overwhelming response has been positive,” said Anne Baker, co-owner of Finnegan’s Wake, a movement organizer, Tinga Tacos and Civil Kitchen.

Reached this morning by Springfield Business Journal, Baker said customers aren’t given a straw automatically, and if they ask for one, “We say, ‘Just to let you know, we are trying to reduce waste,’’’ she said.

“Probably half say, ‘nope, never mind, that’s awesome.’”

If customers insist on straws, Baker said Finnegan’s offers paper straws, and Tinga Tacos and Civil Kitchen offer biodegradable plastic straws. The restaurants are hoping to move to a metal straw option that customers could purchase at cost.

Tom Muetzel, co-owner of Finnegan’s Wake and a movement organizer, said the straws are the symbol for a bigger issue.

“Our lakes, streams, hills and forests are such a big reason people come (to the Ozarks),” he said via email this morning. “If you look at the cities and countries that are already either legislating toward or have already passed laws banning single use plastic, you will notice almost all of them rely on their surrounding environment for a large part of their economy.”

Americans use 500 million straws daily, according to the National Park Service. The World Economic Forum estimates that plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.

A dozen businesses have already signed the pledge: Cafe Cusco, Cellar + Plate, Casper’s, Civil Kitchen, Finnegan’s Wake, Front of House Lounge, Lindberg’s Tavern, Nonna’s Italian Cafe, Outland Ballroom, Tinga Tacos, Van Gogh’s Eeterie and White River Brewing Co.

The Last Straw kicks off June 23 during White River Summer Fest on Commercial Street.

Just today, McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) announced it would transition to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland next year, according to a news release. Trials for plastic straw alternatives will begin in select U.S. restaurants and other global markets later this year.

According to the release, this move supports McDonald’s goal to source 100 percent of customer packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

Comments

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shelia wright

I applaud our local restaurants for giving up plastic straws. I have done this for years except for milk shakes. However it was not for ecology reasons that I do support, but I felt that straws were not a needed business expense. Let's us support these businesses for their effort. Well done.

Saturday, June 16
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