Northeast Ohio restaurants fight plastic waste by ditching straws

There is a movement to ditch plastic straws
Updated: Jun. 8, 2018 at 10:37 PM EDT
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Market Garden Brewery uses paper straws and compostable takeout containers. (Source: WOIO)
Market Garden Brewery uses paper straws and compostable takeout containers. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Disturbing video of a sea turtle has gone viral. In this video, you can see rescue crews pull out a straw stuck in his nostril.

It's an eye opening look at where our plastic can wind up.

A movement to ditch plastic straws is gaining steam, and several local restaurants are leading the fight.

Restaurants are thinking twice about serving you that drink with a straw.

It's a simple step they're taking to help the environment.

And if you really want a straw, you may get a paper one instead of plastic.

Americans are in love with straws.

Every day, we use 500 million plastic straws. That's enough to fill about 46,000 large school buses a year!

Sam McNulty owns Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.

"I kayak on Cuyahoga River, see an occasional garbage bag, bottle flow by. It's amazing how packages we use for seconds end up lasting a lifetime and beyond," he said.

McNulty got sick of seeing plastic litter, and started using paper straws and compostable takeout boxes at all five of his locations.

Servers had to be trained to only give someone a straw if someone asked for it, or with certain cocktails.

"It was a force of habit, every glass of water had a straw," he said.

According to One Less Straw, each year 100,000 marine animals and over one million sea birds die from ingesting plastic.

We may not have an ocean in our backyard, but we have Lake Erie.

So you may want to think twice about using plastic instead of paper.

Europe is leading the way. The European Commission just proposed banning single use plastics like straws.

Market Garden Brewery happened to be hosting a group from Ireland when we visited Friday night.

"We're more conscientious, we have to pay for our bags, when we're shopping pay for plastic bags," said Kate Matthews.

It costs more money to buy paper straws, but McNulty says it's worth it.

"Like most things in life, doing things the right way does cost more, but pays off in dividends. Guests are happier, we sleep better at night," he said.

He hopes other restaurants jump on board too.

Cleveland19 asked McNulty why they like using paper straws.

"The best part is it literally makes people happy," he said.

We reached out to Cleveland Metroparks and found out they're only providing straws on request.

They also use compostable service-ware, cups, and plates.

They say the majority of debris they remove from the beach is wood, and they estimate 10 percent of the debris are plastics.

So what can you do to help?

When you go out to eat, you can ask for your drink without a straw.

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