Portland Is The Latest City To Ditch Plastic Straws

Many bars and restaurants are starting to adopt the practice of ditching plastic straws in Portland, Oregon. They join a number of cities that are looking to put a dent into the 500 million plastic straws used in the United States daily.


May 18 2019, Updated 7:22 p.m. ET

Plastic drinking straws are being eliminated at various bars and restaurants in major cities. In North America alone, we’ve seen the movement take place in Toronto, cities in the state of Colorado, and along the West Coast of the United States. Portland, Oregon, is the latest community that’s seeing many of their bars and restaurants ditching straws. 

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St. Jack, a French cafe located in the Northwest District, was one of the first places to eliminate plastic straws. According to Eater Portland, the idea was brought up by restaurant bar manager Charlie Dorst. The establishment simply serves drinks without the straw, and they explain their reasoning when customers ask for one.

Over 500 million single-use plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone. If they’re made of polypropylene, they can be recycled in most locations, but many of them end up in the trash after a fast food meal or when a bar cleans up drinks. Each plastic straw that ends up in landfills and oceans can take up to 200 years to decompose.

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“Mayor [Ted] Wheeler and his wife and daughter are here regularly and they’re super nice,” Kate Icopini, St. Jack’s general manager, told Eater Portland. “His daughter asked for a straw and we brought over the little metal one and I told him about #StopSucking and he stood up and did a little clap.”

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The “#StopSucking” movement was started by the Lonely Whale Foundation, which is ran by actor and environmentalist Adrian Grenier. Last September, over 100 of Seattle’s restaurants and organizations participated in a campaign that removed plastic straws. Even hosts of their professional sports teams eliminated them from concessions.

For those that don’t want to completely give up the straw, there are options that bars and restaurants can try out. For example, stainless steel or compostable straws can be available upon request. Even limiting the amount of plastic straws is a good start. Cocktails could be adjusted so a straw becomes unnecessary, such as salting the rims of the glass or using less ice.

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A number of establishments in the area have adopted practices in ditching the straw. The Portland Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation highlights Windmer Brothers Brewing, Spirit of 77, Taqueria Nueve, Water Avenue Coffee, Paydirt, Tough Luck, and The Old Gold as participants along with St. Jack.

Removing plastic straws would be an easy way to limit plenty of pollution that ends up in our oceans. It’s easy for us to simply decline one and then educate others on the benefits. As more bars and restaurants adopt the practice, it’ll only be more widely accepted in the future.

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