Research indicates plastics will outweigh fish in our oceans by 2050 and most of that plastic, including plastic straws, comes from trash littering our streets and waterways. As a restaurant on the banks of the Potomac River, we care a lot about protecting our waterways.
One of the top 10 contributors to ocean debris, plastic straws are the subject of a bill put before the DC Committee on Transportation and the Environment on Friday, November 9th.
Co-Owner Dan Simons and founder of Our Last Straw, provided important testimony on how businesses need to (and can) eliminate plastic straws. In our three DC restaurants alone – Farmers Fishers Bakers and its siblings, Founding Farmers DC and Farmers & Distillers – we have eliminated over 938,000 plastic straws from the DC trash stream in the past year. We did this by switching from compostable straws to paper and hay.
At Farmers Fishers Bakers, we also closely manage our straw needs. For example, we chose smaller water glasses that don’t need a straw. However, our festive shared cocktails do. When needed, we use biodegradable straws. Of course, if a customer has a health need where only plastic straws will work for them, we keep a small supply of plastic straws.
This plan is working across all of our restaurants. Most guests are on board, and it is a great educational opportunity for everyone who walks through our doors. As Campaign Manager for Our Last Straw, Julie Sharkey testified, “Plastic straws, just like plastic bags, are the gateway to increased awareness about the environmental and health hazards of plastics, and a critical stepping stone on the path to reducing our reliance on single-use plastics.”
If we can serve guests happily with alternatives, or no straw at all, and educate many in the process, other restaurants can too. Very soon, they will have to seek alternatives. The DC Office of Energy & Environment is working to educate businesses and bring them into compliance across the district by January 1.
For all of the DC restaurant goers, keep your eyes peeled for alternatives to plastic straws across your favorite watering holes. Support your local restaurants in making the switch, and take the pledge to #StopSucking on plastic straws.
Testimony at this committee meeting was also given by representatives from the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, DC Doesn’t Suck, and father of the city’s plastic bag laws, Tommy Wells, Director of the DC Office of Energy & Environment .
The entire hearing was recorded and can be watched online.