Whenever I go out now, whether it’s for a coffee or a cocktail, I can’t help but judge the place I’m in by their plastic policy.
I went for coffee with a friend recently and tutted when the smoothie she’d ordered turned up in a glass mason jar – with a plastic straw poking out of the top.
“Unnecessary”, I’d muttered.
When it comes to dining out, it’s felt like there are some companies who are refusing to take responsibility for our environment and being downright ignorant of the importance of changing our ways and reducing our plastic consumption.
But it doesn’t take much, does it?
Even places like McDonalds have taken action. They’re replacing plastic straws with paper ones in all their restaurants across the UK and Ireland from September 2018. This comes after trials of paper straws at a handful of places in April – a move which was met positively by customers.
Then, at the weekend, I spotted another company taking steps in the right direction.
Las Iguanas, in Brighton Marina, tempted us with their tapas menu but what was the first thing I noticed?
The little box at the bottom of the page which proudly declared:
Immediately, a food chain I loved rose a lot higher in my estimations. (And the tapas was excellent by the way!)
But it doesn’t stop there, because it’s not just well-known chains that are taking steps to reduce their plastic consumption.
While out with friends another weekend, I wondered what my favourite cocktail bar back home would be like when it came to plastic straws.
So I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) when Manuka Bar in Worthing, brought out our Strawberry Daiquiris and Pornstar Martinis – without straws.
And across the road in Libertines? No plastic in sight.
It may seem small but just do a quick google of plastic straws.
You’ll get about 37,200,000 results. And none of them are plastic straw suppliers.
All the top hits are news articles and press releases about the banning of plastic straws, and the restaurants, cafés, bars and shops who are switching plastic for paper in an effort to do their bit for the environment.
For someone like me, going to a bar and being given a plastic straw without being asked first, is enough to put me off ever going back there again.
And I know I’m not alone in that. More and more of us are making more conscious lifestyle choices – whether that’s taking a keep-cup to our favourite coffee haunts, or refusing plastic cutlery.
So why then, are some chains and independents still failing to make one simple change? Why is the plastic straw – an item that probably isn’t even needed in most cases – so hard to get rid of?
Whatever the reason, it’s annoyed me that change is happening at such a slow pace. As a consumer, we can try hard to make lifestyle changes to reduce our plastic consumption.
But when you’re out and about, we need to be encouraged to make the right decision by the businesses we spend our money on.
A friend recently had a very common dilemma.
When ordering a drink from a café, she was given a plastic straw in her glass without being asked. She knew that if she told them she didn’t want it, it would end up in the bin anyway – they weren’t going to re-use it.
So should she just accept it and use it?
The eco-warrior in me suggested she use it but make a point to the staff that she wasn’t happy so they might think twice in the future. (I also suggested taking it home to clean and re-use but I think that fell flat!)
The truth is, she shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place. She should have been asked.
Likewise, I went to a work event the other day and was offered a glass of water. It was hot in the room and I knew I’d be there for the next three hours so I accepted.
When I turned around, a plastic cup of water was being held out to me…
These examples are why I’m writing this post now. To try to encourage you all to shout about the places that are making great changes and swapping plastic for paper, and rant about the places that aren’t.
Hopefully by now, the majority of us are consciously refusing single-use plastic and making companies stop and think. But I know that’s probably not the case.
So if businesses make changes themselves, they’ll be setting a good example to their customers and reducing our reliance on plastic will become almost second nature.
We need to share information so that those places doing good, get recognised. And those who aren’t stepping up to the bar, feel like perhaps they should start making some changes.
Perhaps they could start with a straw…
Got a business that wowed you with their eco-friendliness? Or maybe somewhere that refused to cut back on unnecessary waste? Comment below and share the knowledge!