No Plastic Straw, Please.

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. 🙂

(Image courtesy of Google Image Search)

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Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant

125 Cypress St, Williston, VT 05495-8290

http://www.chilis.com/EN/Pages/home.aspx

802-288-9995

Dear Chili’s:

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.

Sincerely,

Ryan Elizabeth

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Next I’m going to figure out how to tackle the bar scene…it seems tricky, anybody have thoughts on the matter?

Cherry Margaritas w/ Glass Straws
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2 thoughts on “No Plastic Straw, Please.

  1. Lindsey

    Hmmm. So I was thinking about the bar scene bit at the end of this post, and I believe that bars would be too scarred to serve drinks with glass straws in them for fear of them breaking, and although I prefer the glass straw to the stainless steel ones, I think this would be a great product for bars to invest in. Not only would this create a green movement that the bar could use to promote itself, but just as you suggested in your letter to Chilli’s, bars could also offer discounts for those who bring their own straws to the bar! It’s pretty much a win win for the bar as they are showing the very green conscious Burlington community that they are moving local bars in a great environment friendly direction, while saving themselves some money, and promoting their bar. So I guess that means it is actually a win win win, anyway…It is a very original idea, and how could a VT hipster pass up the allure of a truly green initiative bar?

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  2. I love the letters you wrote and think the glass straw margaritas look fabulous!!! Here in NJ, when I talk about people bringing their own spoons when they go out for water ice, they look at me like I have 2 heads, so when I talk about straws, I feel like I’m from another planet, but I really hope this catches on! I don’t have a glass straw yet, but I don’t mind drinking from a glass without a straw, so I’ve just been refusing. The glass straws look great, though, and I’m hoping one shows up in my stocking this year! 🙂

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