The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

We are in the era of green yet I still tend to see a lot of red. 

The red comes in brigades upon cocktail trays and bar tops—petit hollow tubes, protruding from rocks glasses in groups of twos and threes, balanced steadily on the circumference of martini glasses, and anchoring olives, cherries or any other assortment of garnishes to the bottom of a glass.

These are otherwise known as bar straws or stirrers, different from the normal drinking straw, and an object usually discarded before its purpose is realized.  How often do you see these tiny tools plucked from the drink and set aside as refuse? 

And this isn’t at a dive bar or a sports hall.  This takes place in reputable restaurants across the country that pride themselves in being green and eco-friendly, whether by supporting local farmers, working with organic ingredients, or using bio-safe cleaning products.

Establishments increase their costs in order to meet these eco-friendly standards when a big act of conservation cost nothing but the vigilant distribution of plastic.

Several upscale bars and restaurants have made an effort to reduce their plastic waste by forgoing the tiny straw altogether.  But this may pose inconveniences to some patrons, and not to mention diminish the affect of a cocktail that is meant to be sipped from a thin straw. 

At the moment there is at least one establishment committed to being plastic free through innovation rather than deprivation.  Ted’s Montana Grill, which was recently featured in a special report by Restaurants & Institutions, has been devoted to keeping its establishments 99% plastic free since its incarnation in 2001.  Working with an Atlanta-based chain, the first successful prototype was yielded in 2005 using thick paper and a biodegradable coating.

Paper straws are a few years from the mainstream, perhaps, but as the industry moves into its eco-conscious years there will be more decisions at the crease of convenience and conservation.  The hope is that restaurateurs and patrons come to expect the same eco-friendly standards.

To read more of Restaurants & Institutions report on green budgets and commitment, click here. 

One reply on “The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back”
  1. says: Jen

    Coming from a global cosmetics company, everyday we have discussions about living up to our eco-friendly commitment that we brag about so often. We are slowly phasing in to all post consumer recyclable plastics and recycled board. We have done away with plastic bottled water and almost all of our paper cups in our communal kitchen. We have also recently rid our retail stores of all bags made out of the toxic PVC plastic. It’s been a struggle, and we have lots of opposition, even internally. But I feel that it’s a commitment that companies, especially the larger ones who can afford to pay a few cents extra on plastic alternatives, should make and really stand out in their industry as a environmentally-conscious leader. And hopefully, the rest of the industry will follow suite (sooner than later).

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