Southern Utah business owners join movement to eliminate plastic straws

Stock image | Photo courtesy of Boyloso/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — From Starbucks to American Airlines, national corporations have been doing away with plastic straws. And St. George businesses are starting to follow suit.

Nationally, 500 million plastic straws are used each day, according to Eco-Cycle. And according to Strawless Ocean, the majority of plastic straws end up in the ocean or landfills because they’re too small and lightweight to recycle.

Reusable straws that Affogato Love sells for $1.50 each in St. George, Utah, photo date not specified | Photo courtesy of Elise West, Affogato Love, St. George News

As a business owner of the St. George coffee truck Affogato Love, Elise West understands the amount of straws that food and beverage businesses go through. Although the winter is different – when Affogato sells more hot drinks than cold – West estimates during the spring and summer that 100 drinks are ordered on average per day, amounting to 700 straws used each week.

Affogato announced it was no longer using plastic straws in June, but West said this is something she’s been wanting to do for much longer as a result of the impact of posts on social media, such as the video of a straw being pulled out of a sea turtle’s nose in 2015.

“It’s all about education,” West said.

Originally, West wanted to purchase paper straws for Affogato but found out they can cost up to five times more than plastic straws, which means she would have to increase the price of Affogato’s drinks. Now, Affogato sells reusable, BPA-free straws made out of recycled plastic material for $1.50 each.

In addition to Affogato, the Painted Pony restaurant and George’s Corner Restaurant have also joined the movement in using less straws this summer.

Nicki Richards, one of the owners for George’s and Painted Pony, said instead of completely discarding straws, her restaurants started serving straws upon request. Cards placed at the restaurants’ tables, as well as a notification on their menus, state that straws will be served upon request.

I don’t think in the customer service industry we can completely stop using plastic straws,” Richards said, “at least in the near future. But we do our best to gently educate our guests on what we’re doing.”

Card design that’s placed on tables in the Painted Pony restaurant and George’s Corner Restaurant in St. George, Utah | Image courtesy of Nicki Richards, St. George News

Richards said she understand the desire to have a straw, because she’s a straw person herself. But she also said she recycles and is grateful some St. George restaurants have caught on to the movement.

“I think most women with lipstick on want that straw,” she said.

Both West and Richards said they’ve received mostly positive feedback from their customers.

“We’ve just had a wonderful response,” West said.

Nationally, companies like Starbucks, American Airlines, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt Hotels have presented plans to remove plastic straws, according to The Associated Press.

So far in Utah, the movement of going strawless has gained more attention up north, with over 95 restaurants committing to the “Strawless in Salt Lake City” campaign, organized by SLC Air Protectors. However, a spokesperson from SLC Air Protectors told St. George News they are looking for a person or organization to spearhead the movement in Southern Utah because it hasn’t seen as much progress as up north.

SLC Air Protectors also has a petition on with over 1,800 signatures. To learn more about SLC Air Protector’s strawless movement and petition, visit the group’s website.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Good to know what establishments won’t be getting my money. If I order a drink that means I want a straw and no I won’t buy a straw either I’ll go somewhere else. Maybe focus on things that matter like making a good product rather than the latest wacky idea to come out of San Francisco, not many sea turtles out here in southern Utah in case they haven’t noticed and it isn’t because of straws.

    • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 7:21 am

      Just, wow.
      You’re seriously so myopic that you refuse to acknowledge there’s a plastic trash problem?
      I take it you’re okay with plastic bags hanging from barbed wire fences, too? In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a plastic trash problem in Washington County. Just look out the window of your car next time you’re traveling along Brigham Rd or if you go south of SR 7 into Arizona… you can’t go 1/4 mile without seeing someone’s trash.

      You may not remember, but years ago, straws were made of paper. Or you can buy a reusable straw of steel or aluminum or silicone. It’s possible for you to use a straw and not use plastic. It’s entirely possible to have your straw and be a little gentler on the environment. How about stop throwing a tantrum and being a little more responsible?

    • DRT July 19, 2018 at 7:38 am

      Sing it brother! I’m so sick and tired of these businesses that claim “it’s for the good of” whatever the cause of the day is, when all they are really interested in is their own bottom line!
      I’ll go along with them not just automatically throwing straws down with every drink served. But any business that even suggests that I should bring my own reusable straw will lose my business.

      • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 7:57 am

        Yeah, because that straw would be so heavy.

        Read my comment above… they can replace your precious pice of petrochemical technology with paper.

        • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 7:59 am

          Besides, it’s probably going to cost them more to use paper than plastic. But it’s better for everyone, and wont inconvenience you.

          • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 9:33 am

            Paper gets soggy I’ve used them at Sea World they’re garbage and if you want to carry around a straw in your purse by all means have at it. The fact is paper straws take more energy to produce than plastic straws. It honestly wont make any difference on anything other than costing people more and giving the consumer a worse product all so some ill advised environmentalist can have a clean conscience so on that note I’ll continue to use my superior plastic straws as I’m doing as I type this but if you like here’s a short video that may explain my position a little better.

          • KCM July 20, 2018 at 4:37 pm

            Paper ONLY if made from recyclable and recycled materials. We don’t need to be cutting down more trees for the needs of straws either.

      • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 9:35 am

        Exactly if they had it their way you’d have to store your reusable straw right next to your reusable stack of grocery bags, where does it end??

        • An actual Independent July 21, 2018 at 7:29 am

          Hopefully with a world where the kids and grandkids can actually stay alive, with safe water, clean air, a healthy ocean, and without a pandemic human extinction event.
          But if all that means you need to re use your grocery bags, then I can see how that wouldn’t be worth it.

  • CPitch July 19, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Sorry, I think this is stupid too… I don’t think we have a straw problem, or a ‘plastic trash’ problem, we have a littering problem! I see more aluminum cans, paper cups, water bottles and cardboard laying around than I see straws.

    If you really want to make a difference, organize a group to go pick up litter!

    • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 7:58 am

      How about you teach people not to litter in the first place?
      And if the plastic didnt exist, there would be that much less to pick up……

      • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 9:38 am

        I’ll agree on the not littering its just well trashy lol , but we should put local inmates to use and have them picking up trash on a daily basis time to bring back the chain gangs.

  • statusquo July 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Absolute hysteria! Nonsense! Feel good solution to a non-problem.

  • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 8:07 am

    This just cracks me up that Washington County is so attached to their straws.

    You DO realize a straw doesnt have to be plastic, and you wont have to bring your own?
    The candy “Pixie Stix” is in a paper straw. Before 1980, cups and straws were mostly paper, its totally possible for you to gulp your soft drink and use something besides plastic…?
    For Pete’s sake, people… try to be a little less selfish and think for a moment. It’s not difficult and it’s not going to be the end of the world for you to be a cleaner human than presently. It’s not a big deal to make a minor change that benefits you AND your kids.

    • statusquo July 19, 2018 at 9:03 am

      I would love to hear exactly how you think gazzilians of plastic straws from Southern Utah find their way into the ocean? A logical response would be refreshing.

      • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:29 am

        I never said Utah straws wind up in the ocean. If you look at my post I specifically pointed out your trash winds up along my street. But I guess that’s okay with you.

        And yeah, I’m willing to pass a law since you cant be trusted to behave like an adult.

        Please tell me what you have against a clean city, and what is wrong with substituting a paper straw for plastic? Are you going to tell me about all the jobs created by the Keystone XL, and all the jobs created in the plastic straw industry? PLEASE give me a reason for plastic over paper.

        I hear crickets…..

    • statusquo July 19, 2018 at 9:06 am

      I put my garbage in the trash rather than throw it out the window. Nothing selfish about that is there? You’re the one being selfish by expecting others to make the same choices you do. Keep your laws off my trash!

      • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

        Your name says it all…you prefer trash to cleanliness.
        I prefer clean.

        And like I said, since you cant be trusted to pick up after yourself, a law is the result.

        Nice going.

        • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:31 am

          And YOU are the one demanding everyone follow YOUR choices. Someone comes up with a way to make Washington County better, but OMG NOOOO! Because it’s CHANGE!!!!

          • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

            If YOU don’t wanna use a plastic straw YOU don’t have to.

    • Brian July 19, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Pixie Stix are paper because their contents are powder, not liquid. That’s entirely different and irrelevant.

    • DRT July 19, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      You may be too young to remember when it was terribly uncool to use paper bags. How all the Chicken Littles were sniveling about how it would be better for the environment to go to plastic bags. They pissed and moaned about all the trees that were being sacrificed for paper bags.
      So industry geared up and we now have plastic bags.
      So now, suddenly, plastic is terrible! And people are going to fall for it. SMH

  • John July 19, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Local tourist is a card carrying liberal so don’t expect any enlightening comments from that rachel madcow worshipping sheeple.

    • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Suck it up, buttercup.
      Just because I want to have a better environment doesnt make me a liberal. It makes me a caring human who wants a better world left for my kid.
      I’m a registered Republican that doesn’t want to look at your plastic trash that you throw out the window of your Chevy with the 8″ lift kit and the Palin bumper sticker.

      • John July 19, 2018 at 9:56 am

        And who are you to tell me to suck it up? You’re the one who is chasing the media carrot ! The SJWs got you by the short hairs and you can’t help yourself. You weren’t upset about straws until the media told you to be. You liberal turkeys are so predictable. What will it be next week! Banning Ice machines from in front of stores because the illegals will be getting cold? I can’t wait for the blue trickle in November! You really are a bigger fool than jailturd! hahahahahaha! Hey jailturd, I just paid you a compliment!

  • No Filter July 19, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Maybe more people should use their own cups for their morning Starbucks as well. How many plastic and foam cups are wasted and found littered on the ground from them. How about our obsession with bottled water? We all consume to much and this needs to be addressed first if we ever want to stop the pollution problem. But straws are a start, although I think it’s more about cost then the environment. $ makes the world go round, just ask our president!

    • John July 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Think about it for a second, nobody was upset about straws until the media told them to be…GET IT?

      • No Filter July 19, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        That’s why I said this thing is bigger than straws, but we always need somewhere to start. I believe the movement was started by a young boy and after some celebrities picked it up, it finally became a thing. We need to look at this in a positive way. Anything we can do to help the environment is good. Not doing anything is bad. Pretty simple logic.

        • John July 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

          I’m agreeing with you this time cloggy! My point is all the outrage didn’t start until the media told people to be outraged.. That’s the control they try to have over people. It’s really not about the trash. It’s about mind control..

          • No Filter July 19, 2018 at 3:23 pm

            The greed machine is strong with the mind control for sure. Sadly this is a problem with no political or religious sides, they just want your money and don’t care how they make it.

  • statusquo July 19, 2018 at 9:31 am

    To significantly eliminate trash we should just close the landfills and prohibit garbage collection.

  • bikeandfish July 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

    It seems to me several restaurants and vendors are going about this in an even-handed, thoughtful way: serving plastic straws on request. What is wrong with that? Ultimately reducing unneeded waste is a choice that is healthier for our environment, makes our landfills more efficient, and has no negative influence on those who do so voluntarily. Seems like a win-win.

    • John July 19, 2018 at 11:17 am

      How refreshing. No rabbit trail..Thank you!

    • DRT July 19, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      This sure looks to me like the way to go for this. It would go very well with asking if you want water, rather than just bringing water that is often unused to every customer.
      But this makes too much sense for the individual who loves to tell everyone what is best for them.

  • Snarkles July 19, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    So you It would be much more beneficial to wrestle with lids and spilling while driving instead of straws? Talk about distraction. Much nicer to have sticky dirty straws in your car or purse. Fun to clean up after your kids drinking their soda or shake in the car? Non problem in southern Utah. Trash is buried. A better gripe is that we now have to pay for recycling but they refuse to take the plastic trash bags. Now there is a concern. Maybe weighting the trash containers so they don’t fall over in the wind and let the bags blow all over town. I know of no one who throws their straws on the ground or their plastic bags.

  • dodgers July 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    The story starts with erroneous data. The number is much less than 500 million a day.

  • Wolverine July 20, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Geez, last I heard, anyone with lips can drink without a straw. Imagine that!?

  • Mike P July 20, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Paper or Plastic? Heard this for years at the grocery store.

  • PlanetU July 20, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Watch the turtle video, clearly the turtle is in agony. It looks like a stick but I’ll take their word for it. Years ago I was on a cruise ship and I watched as they dumped large plastic bags of trash over the ship into the ocean. Wonder if that still happens, there were probably straws in there! Ridiculous what has been done to the earth/ocean.

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