Plastic Straw Free in CT

We were recently able to catch up with Melissa Joan Hart to discuss the push for the plastic straw free movement in the State of Connecticut and some things that people may not know regarding going "plastic straw free".

Why go straw free?

First of all, straws are too light to be recycled and often end up in our waters from overuse at beach side cafes, resorts and beach goers. Straws a small part of the problem our world is suffering with single-use plastics but it is a good first step to drawing awareness, not only of our litter in the world (try to walk down a beach or really around any parking lot or neighborhood and not find a straw laying about) but also awareness in how we use and dispose of every day items. If we can change this one small habit, we can make a big difference. Now apply that to plastic bags, water bottles, produce bags, single-use coffee cups etc.

What impact do straws and other plastics have on the environment?

Plastics never really go away. They break down from water and sun into micro-plastics which fish eat. Then we eat the fish. The experts say by 2050 the world will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.  If you check around Instagram, it’s not hard to see video and photographs of beaches around the world covered in so many plastic bottles, kids play on top of them as if it is sand.

What are some natural alternatives to plastic straws for people who either prefer straws or are forced to use them for various reasons?

There are tons of alternatives! I understand some people with disabilities really can’t live without them, so I don’t think banning them is the best idea. I actually believe every restaurant and fast food owner has an obligation to have straws on demand ONLY. But can also offer paper, bamboo, steel or even pasta straws that break down in landfills or if they travel into our waterways. We use plastics typically for only 15 minutes. I think it’s worth it to change our habits to make a difference. I have learned to carry 3 steel straws with me everywhere I go. I keep my reusable shopping bags in the car, and a travel mug in my car as well for coffee stops. We use a filter at home for drinking water and bring our own water bottles with us and even into the airports now since most have the refillable water fountains. Saves money and waste.

How has the local Connecticut community responded to the push to ditch the plastic straws?

When I started reaching out to restaurants about posting for them if they went straw-free, I found that most of them were already working on stocking alternatives and had gone to an “on demand only” basis. I had the local farmers market, aquarium and RTM members reach out to me about their movements to do the same and I am trying to unite everyone’s efforts into group action. There is a great movement happening to do our part to clean up our earth.

Which local businesses have joined the plastic straw free movement?

Many restaurants along the shoreline have gotten on board. Bar Taco, Granola Bar, Little Barn, Spotted Horse, Jesup Hall and so many others. Some farmers markets have been straw-free for a while now and every day I hear from people who are helping to spread the word. My son came home Tuesday from his first day of school to tell me that all the 5th graders hate me. When I asked why, he replied, “ because you took away all the straws”. While that was not my decision, I was happy to hear the schools have made that change. And the kids will adapt too. 

 

We want to thank Melissa for taking the time to speak with us about the plastic straw free movement and for all the businesses and individuals who have been open to the changes the movement brings. 

Article photo credit: thehill.com