Did you know there is a floating patch of plastic and other garbage in the Pacific that's twice the size of Texas and 9 feet deep? Marine life and birds are eating this plastic and literally starving to death. As a consumer, it seems almost impossible to avoid plastic, however, there are easy ways to help cut down on the amount of plastic we use and throw away.
Straws are among the most common plastic items found on our beaches, along with bottles, bags and cups. Americans use half a billion straws every day - that many straws could wrap around the Earth 2½ times! And they are ubiquitous. Almost all restaurants, fast food chains, and coffee shops offer straws. Bars, concert and movie theaters, and school cafeterias freely hand them out.
ReThink Disposable, a program of Clean Water Action & Clean Water Fund, prevents waste before it starts by working with local governments, businesses and institutions, and consumers to minimize single use disposable packaging in food service to conserve resources, prevent waste and ocean litter pollution.
We recently launched a #StrawFreeDecember campaign in New Jersey to create awareness about plastic pollution. We've partnered with local restaurants which are displaying educational signage and encouraging customers to #SkipTheStraw!
Customers enjoying a #PlasticFree drink at Kitch Organic in Red Bank, NJ
"We haven't found straws to be a missed item," said Susan Shapiro, owner of Shapiro's Deli in Red Bank, NJ, a participant in the #StrawFreeDecember program. "We are happy being straws by request only and we will continue beyond December."
"We are always striving to make our world a little better each and every day," said Stephen Catania, owner of The Cheese Cave, in Red Bank, NJ, a particant in #StrawFreeDecember. "As small a step as being straw Free is, we know it's making a big difference."
ReThink Disposable has helped over 100 businesses eliminate over 10 million single-use disposables. Organizations large and small are saving thousands of dollars each year, and winning over their customers in a whole new way by championing our movement. For businesses, ReThink Disposable is a "win-win!"
Plastic straws are just one of the many items targeted through the program. Check out this video to see how one shop switched from throwaway packaging to reusable products and saved almost $4,000 after the payback period.
Straw Free December at The Anchor's Bend in Asbury Park, NJ
Disposable food and beverage packaging makes up 67% of litter in commercial streets. More than 100,000 sea animals and 1 million sea birds die from plastic ingestion every year. Seafood eaters ingest 11,000 pieces of plastic every year. If we don’t end the “throw-away” lifestyle now, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050! This is a huge problem.
That's why we are so excited to work with local restaurants and businesses on replacing single-use throwaway disposables with reusables and even eliminating them in the first place. The following NJ-based restaurants have joined #StrawFreeDecember and are eager to work with ReThink Disposable to further reduce waste in 2018. Be sure to pay them a visit and let them know you greatly appreciate what they are doing!
- The Anchor's Bend (Asbury Park)
- Asbury Oyster Bar (Asbury Park)
- Earth Pizza (Red Bank)
- Local Coffee (Montclair)
- Good Karma (Red Bank)
- Kitch Organic (Red Bank)
- Pig and Prince (Montclair)
- Plum on Park (already do no straws at all) (Montclair)
- Shapiro’s NY Deli (Red Bank)
- That Hot Dog Place (Red Bank)
- The Cheese Cave (Red Bank)
- Toast (Red Bank and Montclair)
- Villalobos (Montclair)
- Vital (Montclair)
- West Side Eatery (Formally known as Danish Cafe) (Red Bank)
"We are passionate collectively about being more environmentally conscious," said Nataki Williams, the owner of Vital in Montclair, NJ, a participant in #StrawFreeDecember. "In the restaurant business it is really hard to do that because of some of the challenges and things that we’ve become accustomed to in terms of waste. We have started slowly in making changes in order to create less waste. For us it's some of the little things we can do to change some of the bad habits that we’ve all become accustomed to over the years."
So, the next time you are out and about, "ReThink" whether you really need that plastic straw or bag. Bring reusable cups and take out containers with you when you are on the go. And ask your favorite restaurant or coffee shop to join this award-winning (and free) technical assistance program! If you are a business, institution, school or community in New Jersey interested in learning more about ReThink Disposable, please contact us at 732-963-9714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
#StrawFreeDecember is getting social on Instagram! We are encouraging people to snap a photo with their straw-free drink, then post and tag @ReThinkDisposableNJ #StrawFreeDecember for a chance to win a ReThink Reusable mug.
ReThink Disposable is supported by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and Environmental Endowment of New Jersey. Copyright Clean Water Action & Clean Water Fund 2017.