Several years ago I wrote about the efforts of an 11-year-old boy to eliminate the use of plastic straws in restaurants. One of his goals was to make the giving of straws an “upon request” deal rather than an automatic reflex. We all know the majority of straws end up in the landfill—somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 million a day. According to Sarah Kollar, Project and Outreach Specialist for Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C., “Straws are one of the top ten items collected during cleanups thanks to the volunteers who collect data during the annual International Coastal Cleanup.” This month I learned that the Chiles Restaurant Group has joined a Skip the Straw campaign and will now only give biodegradable straws to customers upon request. Chiles Restaurant Group has implemented its campaign at its three restaurants in Anna Maria Island, Fla.
“When it comes to being environmentally conscious, most of us don’t think twice about the disposable plastic straw,” said Chiles Restaurant Group owner Ed Chiles. “Hopefully by communicating our actions, we will raise awareness regarding plastic pollution and its impact on the environment.”
The Chiles Restaurant Group is making significant strides in its efforts to be “plastic-free” and has implemented single stream recycling in all three locations. This includes the introduction of a plastic cup alternative made exclusively of a commercial food grade cornstarch product which is completely biodegradable unlike many other industry options. Other eco-initiatives include the elimination of all foam containers, saltine cracker wrappers and other non-biodegradable products normally associated with food service operations. Next steps include the introduction of a complete line of eco-friendly “to go” containers and reusable packing crates for produce and seafood.
Chiles Restaurant Group will communicate its environmentally responsible actions through local restaurant marketing in the form of green messages designed to engage, educate and encourage its customers to join in their sustainable efforts to “Skip the Straw.”
The new initiative comes from the Last Straw Challenge started by Ocean Conservancy to target plastic product consumption. People can sign up to pledge to “Skip the Straw”. Together 25,000 people can save 5 million plastic straws from entering the ocean and filling the landfills in just one year.
More information on the Chiles Restaurant Group “Skip the Straw” campaign and other eco-initiatives can be found online, at http://www.islanddining.com.