Last Orders: Why Restaurants Need to Banish Plastic Drinking Straws
We are becoming an increasingly eco-conscious society. The environmental impact we are placing is under scrutiny from governments around the world. The issue of pollution and wastage is finally beginning to gain serious traction.
As business owners, restaurateurs must get on board and move with the times. They must look at their own carbon footprint, and what they can do to ensure their establishment is making a valid contribution to a cleaner environment and lead the way for consumers. One simple way restaurant owners can do this is by banishing the use of plastic straws. The argument of plastic vs. reusable straws is currently a hot topic. This might seem trivial at first, but in this article, we look at what a considerable difference something as simple as this can make:
The Cons of Using Plastic Straws
Did you know that in the UK, it is estimated that 8.5 billion single-use straws are thrown away each year? Consider that! What an astounding figure. That is just one relatively small nation. You can find these single-use items in many establishments – fast food chains, coffee shops, cafes and more than likely, your local restaurant. The following are some main reasons restaurateurs should forgo the use of plastic straws:
1. Adding to the staggering amount of plastic pollution
Our world is becoming clogged with plastic waste pollution. You have undoubtedly seen news articles about the damage this plastic is causing – destroying habitats and choking ecosystems, and even causing fatal damage to wildlife.
The main issue is that plastic takes hundreds of years to fully biodegrade. It can either be dumped or burnt. Burning obviously releases harmful greenhouses gasses. Dumping in landfills isn't a solution either due to the aforementioned degradation period. Let's say you order 20,000 plastic straws per year – that's 20,000 straws that will each take maybe 400 years to degrade – restaurants fundamentally assist this problem.
2. Harming wildlife and ecosystems
Maybe you have heard of the dead whale that was found to have ingested a number of plastic bags? Or seen the tragic photos of marine wildlife stuck in plastic bags and other waste? Plastic really is having a negative impact on our world’s precious wildlife.
As items such as plastic straws and bags find their way into nature, they inevitably cause harm. Animals can eat them, they can destroy habitats. If your restaurant is distributing plastic straws, you too could be contributing to that destruction and harm.
3. Business reputation could take a hit
In business today, owners are placed under the spotlight. They are expected to have ethical business practices. If you continue to use excessive amounts of plastic, your restaurant reputation could be negatively impacted. If businesses around you are embracing recycling and plastic reduction, and you are the only one who hasn't – how do you think that could look? This could, in turn, result in a reduction in custom, and ultimately profits, as people turn to eco-friendly restaurants instead.
The Advantages of Reusable Drinking Straws
The downsides of not using plastic straws are clear. But what do you stand to gain from implementing reusable drinking straws alternatives instead? By reusable straw alternatives, we mean drinking straws that can be cleaned and re-used – not single-usage. Nowadays, lots of sustainable alternatives are available on the market - in particular straws made from metal or bamboo.
These straws can be washed and re-used and because of this, consumption is reduced considerably. When the straws finally come to the end of their life, metal drinking straws can be recycled, and bamboo straws are biodegradable.
5 reasons why using reusable straws for your restaurant will pay dividends.
1. Drastically boost your restaurant's reputation
Whilst using plastic straws could damage your restaurant reputation, using reusable straws could have the opposite effect. Customers can visit your restaurant and see that you are making a contribution to the environment. This should cast your establishment in a favourable light and hopefully bring in more custom.
2. Improved marketing and promotional material
Imagine an Instagram photo of a reusable bamboo straw sitting elegantly in an ice-cold drink. Or image a Facebook post that showcases your brand-new range of reusable metal straws. These items make superb promotional material. You can photograph them in a number of artistic ways and use them to promote your businesses new image.
3. Potential to sell reusable straws for profit
There are two ways you can use straws. First, you can ask if a customer requires one when they purchase a drink. This straw would then be sanitised and washed after usage. Secondly, you could create a display showcasing your straws, and sell them to your customers – they could then use them in your restaurant, but also take them home and use them in their daily lives. By selling these straws you could add a small percentage and even earn additional profit.
4. Promote a reduction of plastic within the local community
If your restaurant takes the initiative and begins to promote reusable drinking straws, you could propel the wider community to do the same. As your restaurant's reputation increases, word of mouth will spread what you are doing. Other establishments could take note and follow suit.
5. Contribute to a better environment
The main positive that should be put before profit or reputation is the fact that you will contribute to a reduction in plastic usage! This is the icing on the cake. By implementing reusable drinking straws, you are making a stand and making a difference. You can take solace in the fact that you are doing something worthwhile to help the future of our planet.
Reusable drinking straws are clearly the way forward. Get on board now and reduce your plastic usage. There is literally no need to continue using these single-use disposable nightmares. By turning to a reusable metal or bamboo drinking straw alternative, you can greatly improve your restaurant image, and also make a valid contribution to waste reduction.