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Plastic straw conversation trickles to the Illinois Valley

LaSalle News Tribune

Wednesday, June 13, 2018  |  Article  |  

Environment (41)

Scott Struchen said the numbers were staggering when he first saw them. About 500 million drinking straws are used a day in America, according to the National Park Service’s “Be Straw Free Campaign.” That’s about 1.6 straws per person per day.

“It’s crazy,” said Struchen, the chief commercial officer for Tangled Roots Brewery and The Lone Buffalo restaurant in Ottawa. “I think you’re going to start seeing people look at types of disposable straws.”

The movement to ban plastic straws has been taking a foothold in the United States recently, with business such as SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean jumping into the fold in recent weeks while others including McDonalds and Starbucks are still on the fence. A video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril gained national notoriety and has nearly 27 million views on YouTube.

But has the straw conversation trickled its way to the Illinois Valley?

“It’s on our radar,” Struchen said. “It has been talked about. But it has not hit us like it has the western suburbs and Chicago. But being that we are a brewery, we have been paying attention.”

He said the brewery looks to keep a low carbon footprint and straws are typically limited to kid’s drinks.

Starved Rock Lodge has already made the switch away from plastic straws in a recent waste-reduction change.

“We were concerned about the impact of carry out containers so we made the switch early last year and since then all of our plastic tableware, cups and carry out products are compostable, including our straws,” said Amy Trimble, CEO of Starved Rock Lodge.

At M.J’s Pub and Grill in Oglesby, owner Jackie Mente said straws are still a staple in the restaurant business, but that doesn’t mean they are here to stay.

“I do get the disposal part. It’s less plastic in the environment. It might be the thought of the future,” she said. “For years and years, everybody used straws, but people don’t have to have them.”

She said a bigger conversation going on with straws right now is that the health department wants them to be covered in paper at all times. Mente said it is more expensive to purchase them that way.