A group of enthusiastic volunteers took to the streets of Smiths Falls on Wed. August 8th to suggest to business they consider paper over plastic straws. The volunteers split into teams and blitzed all 49 food establishments in town, explaining the problem with plastic straws, giving them each two sample packages of paper straws to try, and contact information for reordering. All but one of the businesses were already aware of the plastic straw problem. Locally owned businesses were onside to try the paper straws and purchase them. Restaurants that were part of a chain and could not make the decision locally would make the suggestion to head office. One local business owner, Amy Rensby of C’est Tout Bakery, had just received an order of paper straws that day, after trying corn-based straw for six months.
Millions of plastic straws are discarded every day after just one use, and they are not being recycled. They are made from a non renewable resource, take decades to break down, releasing toxic chemicals as they do. Many become litter or take up space in landfills. But there are alternatives: paper, compostable, stainless steel or even glass straws are now available. And you can always say no to a straw altogether!
Thanks to all of the REAL volunteers who took part: Helen Smith, Linda Fennell, Cathryn Davidson, David Hoffman, Sally Smith, Terry Watkiss, Julie Creighton, and especially to Katie Hoffman and Lorraine Allen for organizing the event, as well as Sally Smith and Evelyn Harford for the media coverage.
REAL hopes that more people will avoid plastic straws, and start to think about avoiding other single use plastics such as cutlery, razors, and coffee pods.
A number of packages of paper straws were left over from the event, and can be purchased $2 for a pack of 24 from the REAL Deal Store.
See the Inside Ottawa Valley story by Evelyn Harford.