Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville North-Burlington, and Oakville and Burlington restaurant owner John Stratigeas are challenging all local bars and restaurants to go straw-free. The two issued the challenge the challenge on May 11 at Tin Cup Sports Grill in Burlington.
An estimated 57,000,000 single use plastic straws are used per day in Canada. Yet straws are at the center of a growing environmental campaign aimed at convincing people to stop using straws to help save the oceans. A single-use straw in your pop or cocktail will be on this planet for centuries. It takes over 200 years to break down into tiny toxic particles. Straws don’t biodegrade, they’re difficult to recycle, they leach toxic chemicals into the ground and they end up in oceans, causing irreparable damage to marine animals that mistake them for food and choke on them or get them caught in their intestines.
Each year, 8-12 million tons of plastic pollution make it into the world’s oceans with straws listed as one of the most widely reported plastic items found during beach clean-up efforts.
John Stratigeas, owner of Tin Cup Sports Grills in Burlington and Oakville and Rust Bistro Bar in Burlington, is working toward all of his restaurants being straw-free and he is challenging other restaurants and bars in Halton to do the same. “Originally, at the request of my daughter, Alexandria, an SE teacher in Burlington, we stopped automatically offering patrons straws at all of our restaurants earlier this year and only give them to people who request one,” said Stratigeas. “I am moving towards all of our restaurants being completely straw-free in the future. The damage plastic straws do to the environment is just not worth it.”
“John is taking an important lead in the movement to stop the damage being done to our environment by single-use straws,” said MP Damoff. “Like these three local restaurants that are phasing out straws, we can all do our part. Ordering your drinks without straws is a small sacrifice but a big step to reducing the amount of plastic we produce and waste.”
While nearly everyone can support cutting down on pollution, there are some people who require a straw in order to eat or drink. An outright ban of plastic straws before a biodegradable alternative is put in place could negatively impact some people living with disabilities and speaks to a larger issue of inclusivity and people with disabilities not feeling welcome in public spaces, like bars and restaurants. “I think what John is doing at his restaurants – giving them only to people who directly ask for them – is a great compromise until we have a better solution to plastic straws,” said MP Damoff.
The #refusethestraw movement has been gaining momentum globally over the past year, with restaurants and bars in large cities weaning patrons off plastic straws. MP Damoff and Mr. Stratigeas hope restaurants across Halton will take the challenge to give patrons straws only upon request and encourage people to refuse a straw when ordering a drink.
“We encourage everyone to join us in a global movement to eliminate plastic drinking straws from our landfills, our streams, our oceans and our beaches,” said MP Damoff. “I have refused the straw for many years and am thrilled that the movement is gaining momentum. By simply stating on menus ‘straws available upon request’, bars and restaurants can be a huge part of the solution.”