Resolve to help our planet by giving up on straws
Canton Repository: Whether you’re still looking for a resolution you can keep through 2019 or you already are attempting a second or third try after a wayward New Year’s Day, we offer this suggestion:
Individually, it’s a modest goal — one anybody should be able to accomplish relatively easily — so maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but don’t let its simplicity minimize its importance or its positive effect. Collectively, reducing waste presents huge potential to make a big difference across our community and, yes, our entire planet.
We can start with straws.
As noted in Monday’s edition of The Canton Repository, Americans use an estimated 182.5 billion straws every year. While the accuracy of that widely reported statistic has met with some skepticism, consider that even if it’s off the mark by as much as several tens of billions, it still represents more than a straw used per person every day of the year in this country.
All that plastic ends up somewhere — a landfill or a waterway — for years and years. Millions of tons of plastic reach the ocean every year — presenting a danger to wildlife and an environmental problem we’re likely to hear more about this year and well into the future.
MOUNT UNION STUDENTS
Locally, some students at the University of Mount Union — a group called the Green Raiders that helps to educate others about sustainability — took their concern for the environment to local restaurants. They found an early partner in the Grinders Above & Beyond restaurant group.
Servers at the chain’s seven locations — in Alliance, Canton, Dover, Hartville, Louisville, Minerva and North Canton — no longer give straws to customers with their drink orders unless they are requested.
For physical reasons or health-related concerns, some patrons need to use a straw or simply prefer to drink that way, making an outright ban unrealistic.
We suspect that over time, however, the number of customers asking for a straw will decline until it becomes a tiny fraction of its current level.
Sure it’s a small step, but that’s also part of its beauty. Soon, thousands of straws that otherwise would have been used and thrown away won’t be given to customers in the first place — and that’s at only one small, local chain.
Withholding straws also begins a larger conversation about ways customers and businesses can address waste in other areas, whether it’s plastics, paper or food, which is a huge concern and a topic all its own.
We commend the Mount Union Green Raiders and the staff at Grinders Above and Beyond for advancing the conversation on this important environmental matter, and we encourage restaurant-goers patronizing any of our local establishments to consider saying, “Hold the straw.”
That’s a resolution most of us could keep for all of 2019.