Explore Lake Simcoe Sustainable Tourism says no to plastic straws
Michelle Huggins, owner of the Lazy Tulip Cafe in downtown Barrie, is taking part in the No-Straw Challenge, an effort to encourage area food and beverage operations to reduce their use of plastic straws to help the environment.
Would you like a plastic straw with that?
More and more customers are saying no, thanks to an innovative project by the Explore Lake Simcoe Sustainable Tourism project.
The No-Straw Challenge was developed in partnership with the Government of Ontario, the RT07 tourism area and Tourism Barrie, according to Explore Lake Simcoe spokeswoman Aileen MacMillan.
“The project is free of charge and works with businesses located in the Lake Simcoe watershed to adopt environmentally sustainable practices,” she said.
“The project aims to encourage sustainable outdoor recreation and tourism, to encourage visitors to support green practices, and to share knowledge and information about participating business' efforts to adopt green operational practices.”
MacMillan said the average restaurant uses 36,400 straws per year.
“While plastic drinking straws are only used for a short time, and are most often unnecessary, they persist in the environment for much longer.
“If not disposed of properly, plastic straws often come to rest in our waterways and are actually one of the top 10 items found in marine litter,” she said. “Plastic drinking straw litter and other plastic litter can not only be swallowed by or entrap wildlife, it can also break down into small particles in our water which are responsible for the release of contaminants.”
Michelle Huggins, owner Lazy Tulip Café in Barrie’s downtown, said her staff are no longer automatically serving straws with beverages.
“We are, however, offering our customers the option to ask for one. And it is not surprising that our customers are totally on board and appreciate the policy,” she said. “They usually say, ‘No, I’m good’ and they appreciate the option.”
About a half dozen Barrie eateries are taking part in the challenge.
Don Kellett, co-owner of Donaleighs Irish Public House, said his establishment is happy to be a part of the program.
“We are constantly looking for the next step forward,” he said. “It is everyone’s social responsibility to make an effort. One step at a time, Donaleigh’s and other restaurants must move forward on environmental sustainability.”
MacMillan said participating restaurants will track straw-use weekly and report back on the number of straws reduced at the end of February.
“Participants will also be asked to switch to compostable or paper straws once current supplies run out,” she said. “The hope is they will continue with the challenge after February, that more food and beverage providers will sign on, and that this will be a stepping stone to the implementation of other environmentally beneficial practices.”
Visit www.explorelakesimcoe.com to learn more.