If you haven’t seen the numbers yet, beware: plastic is our planet’s arch nemesis. National Geographic’s mid-June spread featured some horrifying figures, alongside pictures of grimy plastic wastelands washed ashore. Writer Devorah Lev-Tov revealed that 50 percent of the world’s plastic was produced in the last 10 years, as it infiltrates the bellies of almost as much of the world’s seabird population (44 percent) — not to mention other seafaring creatures and land mammals. One of the worst offenders in the world of plastic waste: straws.
The typical, lightweight straw isn’t biodegradable and can easily find its way to the ocean, where it is reduced to microplastic pieces commonly confused as food by animals. Millions of these suckers (PUN!) are disposed of each day in the U.S. alone, and for these reasons and more, many countries, cities, and businesses have joined the straw-ban bandwagon — including a few from Corvallis.
Several Corvallis eateries are phasing out their supply of single-use plastic straws. Cloud and Kelly’s, DeMaggio’s, Downward Dog (both locations), and Bombs Away Café began phasing out straws in late April.
Owner Cloud Davidson states that the restaurants “have switched to strawless when we can, but of course have compostable [straws] for anyone who would like one or needs one.”
Castor is also switching to compostable straws upon request. Executive Chef Danielle Lewis states that the restaurant does have “a stock of straws that we are phasing out but don’t want to just throw away.”
“Once we go through the back stock of straws, we will have biodegradable straws available upon guests’ request,” she continues.
Asian fusion restaurant Magenta has already gone through their supply of plastic straws with no plans to order more and are excited to lessen their waste stream.
Block 15 is purported to be following a similar phase out as Castor and Magenta, but could not be reached for comment.
Sky High owner Scott McFarland has reported that his business has already reduced their straw usage by 75 percent by only offering non-plastic straws when requested.
McFarland comments, “Even compostable, biodegradable straws are a strain on Mother Nature, and we are working to further reduce our straw usage, and looking for reusable straw options.”
Downtown farmers’ market vendor and South Co-op neighbor Purple Moon Organic Espresso exclusively uses compostable cups, straws, and lids.
Perhaps Corvallis will someday phase out straws altogether, similar to the plastic bag ban — but don’t wait around for others to decide for you. If you are a restaurant owner or are in the business, think hard the next time you see a straw, about where it might be over time — possibly impaled through some poor turtle’s head, or in the intestines of some seabird… even in the belly of some fish you’ll eat one day — and do something about it.
By Erica Johnson