In response to increased plastic waste on beaches and in the ocean, Green Drinks Newport announced this week that it has partnered with Clean Ocean Access and The Last Straw to launch Strawless by the Sea, a collaborative campaign to eliminate plastic straws in Newport, Rhode Island.
Strawless by the Sea launches today (Friday, June 8th), World Oceans Day, and will continue through the summer months. Bars, restaurants and other establishments in Newport, such as coffee shops and yacht clubs, are encouraged to make a voluntary commitment to stop offering plastic straws and stirrers to stop plastic pollution at the source.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, over 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the U.S., which is enough to circle the earth 2.5 times. Plastic straws are used for 20 minutes on average, but take up to 500 years to break down.
“Last summer I was eating at an outdoor establishment on a very windy day and watched several plastic straws blow into the water,” said Kara DiCamillo, Green Drinks Newport Organizer and Clean Ocean Access Board Member in a press release on Thursday. “I’ve attended many beach clean-ups hosted by Clean Ocean Access and knew that I’d be picking those same straws up one day.
“Green Drinks has been gathering like-minded people together each month in Newport for 11 years to network and share ideas so, with Clean Ocean Access and The Last Straw, Strawless by the Sea aims to be a collaborative effort to help spark a local movement. We have amazing leaders in our community who have already brought awareness to plastic straw pollution, such as the Pell Elementary School, Sailors for the Sea, the New York Yacht Club, the Clarke Cooke House and the recent Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover, hosted by Sail Newport. Our goal is to take it one step further and to track the number of plastic straws that all of us will help to eliminate over the upcoming months.”
In Newport, straws are among the top 10 items found during beach cleanups and can do so much harm to seabirds, turtles and other marine creatures. Clean Ocean Access has removed over 2,000 straws on our beaches in the past five years, while more than 650 have been collected by their marina trash skimmers in Newport Harbor in just eight months.
“We are thrilled to see the community-led efforts to eradicate plastic straws, and this effort aligns perfectly with our successful two-year campaign for a plastic bag ordinance on Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands,” said Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director and Co-founder of Clean Ocean Access in the news release. “The spirit of our position for the plastic bag ordinance was to tickle more persuasion so that people start making better choices in their daily lives to eliminate single-use plastics and to switch to durable reusable alternatives. There are real cost savings for businesses and consumers and this initiative advances the efforts of the biggest islands in the Ocean State to lead by example that a thriving economy and a healthy economy go hand in hand.”
Restaurants can reduce the use of plastic straws by implementing a “Straws Upon Request” policy, switching to paper straws or reusable straws or by going completely “strawless”. We invite the owners and general managers of restaurants, bars, cafés and coffee shops across the city join us now and commit to switching to alternatives that are kinder on our natural resources.
Tyler Bernadyn, a local hospitality professional who started The Last Straw, an internalized campaign to educate bartenders and their guests on the importance of recognizing and reducing plastic pollution, says that he knows we can all do better.
“Seeing how many single-use straws and plastic cups are wasted during a single service and watching these same items wash up on our beaches and pollute our harbor really inspired me to start this initiative,” he said in the joint press release. “Being behind the bar, you have an opportunity to encourage change and help protect our most valuable resources here in Newport, which is our beaches and waterways.”
Several Newport establishments are already making a difference and have joined Strawless by the Sea:
- Bannister’s Wharf Marina & Guest Rooms
- Belle’s Café at the Newport Shipyard
- Brix Restaurant at Newport Vineyards
- The Clarke Cooke House
- Newport Dinner Cruises
- Scales and Shells
- Taproot Brewing Co. at Newport Vineyards (coming June 20)
- Winner Winner
Environmental groups and local businesses have also backed Strawless by the Sea, including: Bowen’s Wharf, Discover Newport; Sail Newport; Sailors for the Sea; The Ocean Project and; World Oceans Day.
“As an individual, refusing a single-use plastic straw in our bars and restaurants in Newport is the easiest and simplest way to take action today to address plastic pollution that is in our waters and on our beaches,” DiCamillo said.
To join the collaboration and to learn more about Strawless by the Sea, visit: www.strawlessnewport.org and follow the conversation on Facebook and Instagram: @strawlessnewport, #StrawlessbytheSea, #StrawlessNewport.