My previous post was all about inspiration and getting out of the sea of bad news that seems to surround us on a day-to-day basis. For Earth Day 2011, here’s one of the things I’m doing to take action and be optimistic about our future: writing a letter to a restaurant in my area, asking them why on earth they still use plastic straws! Upon further inflection, I realize I have it pretty nice in Burlington, VT.
First, there is a HUGE food scene here. It seems there is no end to the type and quantity of restaurants in and around the Burlington area, and it’s great! I’m an adventurous eater and love trying new places, so this is a win-win.
Another reason why it’s good to be in VT is that some of my work is already done for me. Most of my favorite restaurants don’t serve my water-glass with a plastic straw. This works out just fine…until I order a drink. It’s a trend everywhere: as soon as you order something other than water (excluding wine and beer) you’re almost guaranteed to receive said drink with a plastic straw of some variety. I don’t know why people think that we don’t need straws for water, but when we order a lemonade or even a margarita for Pete’s sake (there’s a salted rim for a reason!!), yep, definitely throw a straw in. I love getting together for drinks with friends, but every time my drink arrives with a stupid plastic straw embedded in it, I get a little upset. One time, I even told the bartender, point-blank, to not include a straw…and he did anyway. Good grief!
So the way I see it, the big menaces in the plastic-straw game are chain restaurants and bars. The following letter is one I plan to send to Chili’s: I don’t go here a lot, as there are so many better, local places closer to me, but sometimes I just can’t resist their chips and salsa…and margaritas. 🙂
Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant
125 Cypress St, Williston, VT 05495-8290
Hi! First let me start off with saying thank you, for being the place my family and I have come to for years to celebrate all manner of important occasions (good grades, birthdays, etc…). As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have matured and expanded, but I still find your chips and salsa and oh-so-fabulous margaritas irresistible. Yum!
Although I could probably go on for paragraphs about the delicious beverages that are served up at the Williston, VT Chili’s, this letter is a request, a call-to-action of sorts. I’ve started to notice that every time drinks are served at Chili’s, more often than not, a plastic straw accompanies these drinks. Is this really necessary? An issue I’ve taken interest with in the past few years has been that of plastic pollution into the environment and plastic straws definitely fall under that category.
Plastic is a great resource, but lately it’s being used for convenience items like straws, cutlery and take-out containers. Unfortunately, once we’re done with the straw, fork or Styrofoam container, they end up in a landfill, or get blown away into a municipal water supply and end up polluting our environment. We get 10 minutes of convenience out of these items and then they’re inconveniently on our earth for years to come…doesn’t that seem a bit ridiculous?
I wonder what the cost savings for a chain restaurant like Chili’s might be if they reduced their consumption of plastic straws? Would it be possible to train the wait-staff to fill drinks and not serve them with straws unless asked by customers? Glass Dharma, a company based in Fort Bragg, CA makes glass straws that are beautiful and functional. Would it be possible for a company like Chili’s to offer incentives programs to those that bring their own straws/takeout containers? These are questions I’d love to hear answers for, or to learn more about Chili’s packaging policies in general.
It would be great if we could start a sea-change of reducing our consumption of plastic with a company as wide-spread as Chili’s Grill & Bar; there would be a noticeable impact!
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Next I’m going to figure out how to tackle the bar scene…it seems tricky, anybody have thoughts on the matter?