Thursday, July 12, 2018

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The last straw at Gardiner restaurant

Ilka Casey and Samrat Pathania of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition

GARDINER – Climate activists and environmentally-minded community members celebrated the Mountain Brauhaus restaurant in Gardiner, Wednesday afternoon, for their dedication to refusing to use single-use plastics in their establishment.

The New Paltz Climate Action Coalition presented the restaurant with the “Last Straw Award” in recognition of their efforts to not only phase out single-use plastics, but to also promote buying reusable straws to their customers.

Single-use plastics, such as grocery bags, cups, cutlery and straws are presenting a significant environmental risk, with U.S. estimates of plastic straw use, specifically, being approximately 500 million a day. These plastics, although used by the consumer for a very short time, can remain in landfills and oceans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years before breaking down.

Executive Director of Protect Our Waters and member of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, Iris Bloom, said they wanted to recognize Mountain Brauhaus for more than just their commitment to not using single-use plastics.

“Instead of just passively switching to an ask first policy, they actively are educating people about that we are using 500 million plastic straws a day and that in honor of the interconnectedness of all life, asking customers to skip the straw,” said Bloom. “We love them for being so thoughtful.”  

Mountain Brauhaus offers customers who request a straw a biodegradable paper straw, in addition to promoting their own sales of reusable bamboo and steel straws. Restaurant co-owner Ilka Casey said although the paper straws are more expensive, their strategy of providing the customer with the option to go without a straw makes the endeavor financially feasible.

“The way that we’ve done it is by not offering straws unless they are requested,” Casey said. “The paper straws do cost about 10 times as much as a plastic straw, but we’re using less than one-tenth the number of straws that we were. It’s not costing us a ton of money to it,” said Casey. “The stainless steel and bamboo straws we’re selling, we’re selling pretty much at cost.”

Both Casey and Bloom said the effort isn’t ending there. Casey said she has begun reaching out to the school districts to getting involved in stopping the use of other single-use plastic items. Also, according to Bloom, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition has draft legislation to ban the use of all single-use plastics in the Village of Woodstock, a law they are confident the village will adopt. If that legislation is adopted, they will then work towards implementation at the county and state levels.

 


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