Straws

Americans use and dispose of up to 500 million single-use straws and stirrers every day, according to studies.

More than a dozen restaurants and the mayor of Warrenton have pledged to no longer serve straws unless requested by patrons as part of a sustainability campaign to reduce plastic waste. 

The Fauquier Climate Change Group Sustainability Committee recently announced that 16 restaurants in Warrenton have pledged to join the organization’s ”Straws on Request” campaign this spring to reduce plastic waste.

“This is not a ban on straws; instead, straws are a choice,” Marionette Jones, head of the Fauquier Climate Change Group Sustainability Committee, said in a news release. “Participants’ wait staff will provide straws whenever they are wanted.”

The inspiration behind the campaign came from a study conducted by several German psychologists who found that people who had to explicitly ask for a straw were much less likely to use one. According to the study, introducing this extra step led to a reduction in straw consumption by 32 percent on average compared to before. 

Carter Nevill, the mayor of Warrenton and a supporter of the campaign, said that besides benefiting the environment, “reducing waste that goes to the landfill reduces costs to taxpayers.”

Nevill added, “While straws might be only a small contributor to the global impact caused by landfill waste, they are ubiquitous in restaurants and thus an easy way to make a positive change.”

Jones said most recycling facilities do not accept plastic straws. Moreover, most small and lightweight plastics slip off the conveyor belt during the sorting process, contaminating other sorted plastics and resulting mixtures that are no longer usable. Plastic straws do not decompose in the landfill, and they leach toxic pollutants like phthalates and bisphenol A into the soil and waterways, according to the local climate change group.

“When plastic straws are not disposed of responsibly, they end up in the natural environment where they can cause significant harm to wildlife such as birds, fish, turtles, and seals,” Jones said. “The planet's well-being depends on our raised awareness that helps us become more intentional consumers and caretakers.”

Americans use and dispose of up to 500 million single-use straws and stirrers every day, which roughly translates into 12,000 straws a day – or more than 4 million straws a year – in Warrenton, according to Jones.

 “People who want to reduce their use of an item that quickly ends up as trash want a way to opt out of straws,” said Kevin O'Neill, the director of Fauquier Climate Change Group. “Once we get a good participation rate in our town, we plan to make this campaign county-wide.”

Here is the list of participating Warrenton restaurants (in alphabetical order): 

  • Black Bear Bistro
  • Café Torino
  • Denim and Pearls
  • El Agave
  • El Jaripeo
  • Faang Thai Restaurant & Bar
  • Frost Diner
  • Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Red Truck Bakery – Warrenton
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Molly's Irish Pub
  • Natural Marketplace
  • O'Brien's Irish Pub
  • Sunny Hills American Grill
  • Taj Palace Indian Cuisine
  • Third & Main Gourmet to Go

(4) comments

Cindy Burbank

It is great to hear about our local restaurants adopting "straw on request" policies! Thank you, Fauquier Not, for highlighting this story. I know some of the local residents who have been diligently working with restaurants on this for more than a year. Kudos to them -- Marionette and Judy especially! Just one important clarification -- I believe the "straws on request" pledge is for all types of straws, not just plastic. It is true that plastic straws cause the most problems, and that paper straws are better -- but no straws at all are the best yet.

ScienceFan

Claire's at the Depot has signed the pledge too.

newbie_to_va

Oh for pete's sake. Banning straws is the most impt thing to direct one's energy towards today - or ever?!?!

How about simply focusing on not littering?

Or how about not buying WATER in plastic bottles?

Either of those efforts would be more impt than virtue signaling the banning of straws.

ShoeFlyShoe

Virtue-signaling at it's finest. Sickening.

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