Hampton Roads businesses ditch plastic straws

Posted at 3:16 PM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 15:16:48-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – It’s a worldwide trend many local businesses are taking to: skipping plastic straws. A few months ago, Keep It Beachy Clean asked local restaurants to skip the straw for Earth Day. The group’s wish was for many of them to stick to that change, and many have, WTKR reports.

“Every few days I hear about another restaurant that has joined that effort in reducing plastic, single-use plastic straws, and that’s great,” said Christine Trapani of Keep It Beachy Clean.

One of the restaurants making the switch is Abbey Road at the Oceanfront.

“Why only one day? Why just Earth Day? Why can’t every day be Earth Day?” asked Bob Dillion, the owner of Abbey Road. He said his employees and customers had great feedback for ditching plastic straws, so he made changes.

The changes aren’t cheap and cut into his bottom line, but it’s something Dillion believes is worth it. He has switched to paper straws completely, even finding the smaller cocktail straws for alcoholic beverages.

“It’s seven times the cost of plastic straws,” said Dillion. Servers at Abbey Road only give out the paper straws if customers ask for them.

Some local spots, including Three Ships Coffee, have used paper straws since the beginning. Owner Brad Ewing said when they opened, he made a conscious decision about having that in their mission statement and doing everything they can to reduce the usage of plastics. However, he does admit the cost of paper straws can be a turnoff and currently they get it at a good price.

“We buy in a large quantity,” said Ewing. “If other businesses are interested, they can contact us.”

The owner of Tautog’s and Doc Taylor’s at the Oceanfront only give out plastic straws if customers ask. They have cards on each table explaining their decision while the owner works to find a way to get plastic straws. It’s something the owner said was suggested to him years ago. They are still on the hunt for where to get their paper straws.

“We are absolutely looking for a paper straw distributor that’s going to be cost-competitive,” said Bill Gambrell.

Gambrell added his restaurants do more than not giving out plastic straws automatically. They also donate their oyster shells. While he waits on finding paper straws, he has a message he wants to send.

“It was clear that our corporate goal has always been to do something as opposed to doing nothing,” said Gambrell.

In Williamsburg, Culture Cafe gives out paper straws. Owner Louise Wood has a poster in her cafe saying, “Stop Sucking! Say NO to Plastic Straws,” and it’s also available in postcard format and free for guests. It’s her way of helping the environment and helping to keep the ocean as clean as possible.

Great Wolf Lodge also is skipping plastic straws across all resorts, including their Williamsburg location.

For many of these business owners, they hope straws are just the beginning.

“The more the consumer focuses on what they’re buying and the impact of how it got here and the impact of its packaging. We have to evolve our purchasing habits to make a change, and straws are a great step,” said Ewing.

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