The challenge for January 2018 is #activismnotapathy where we are going to try to spread a little bit of positive change outside of just working on our own habits. I decided that my own little campaign would be to see if I could get one of my favourite local restaurants, La Más Bonita, to stop serving plastic straws with drinks.
Luckily, it turns out that I have a friend who knows someone who knows the owners. She offered to pass an email along to them. (I'll include the email at the bottom of this post for anyone else looking to talk to restaurants/bars in their area... no point reinventing the wheel!)
The owners of LMB responded to my friend's friend within a couple of days with the good news that someone else has already approached them about this and they are sitting down with them to figure out ways they can be more environmentally friendly!
We're guessing it's the same awesome organisation that held the beach clean-up I attended back in November. Fingers crossed that this means we'll see straws disappearing from their restaurants soon.
In the meantime, I'm going to contact the team behind the beach clean-ups and see what other restaurants they've contacted in Patacona and what kind of response they've received.
Here's the body of the email I sent them in case you'd like to modify it for restaurants/bars in your area:
Everyone’s aware that plastic pollution is a huge problem, particularly for marine life. As La Mas Bonita is literally ON the beach for much of the year, it would be amazing if you could lead the way in cutting back on plastic pollution in Patacona.
I’ve noticed you already sell reusable coffee cups which is awesome! Your restaurant and your chiringuito have that California/Ibiza vibe going on, and using products that damage the beach just clashes with that.
One really simple way you could make a difference is by not automatically serving straws with drinks, especially at the chiringuito. There are loads of other ways you could cut back on disposable plastic, but this is a really easy place to start.
Rather than serving straws, you could simply put something like the attached file (with the same text in Spanish on the back) on each table or in the menus. Or just ask staff to explain why you don’t serve them. One added bonus is that you’ll save money by not buying straws…
Another option is to only serve straws upon request, perhaps with a 10 cent charge. In the same way that supermarkets charge for plastic bags, it’s perfectly legitimate to charge for unnecessary plastic straws.
And a final option is to switch to either paper or reusable straws, like bamboo or stainless steel.
I understand that milkshakes are rather hard to drink without straws… but the other drinks simply don’t need them.
If you’d like to read more about the crazy impact of plastic, here are some quick facts -
- Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups worldwide.
- The US & UK alone toss out 550 million plastic straws every single day.
- 300 million tons of plastic waste is created every year.
- Not even 10% of plastic is recycled.
- Plastic straws are too small to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter.
- By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the seas.
- Every single plastic product we’ve ever created still exists today.
Refusing to use plastic straws is one really simple way to help the oceans out. It doesn’t have to cost a thing, and can actually end up saving money. It can also be a great USP - just one more reason to love La Mas Bonita!
And here's the very basic mock-up I created in Canva of the type of note they could use to explain why they don't serve straws:
It seems that the tide really is turning against these stupid, pointless bits of plastic. The Evening Standard newspaper in London launched a campaign against plastic straws just yesterday -
Let me know if you decide to talk to any of your local bars/restaurants about straws (or other disposable plastics) and how you get on!