Chattanooga restaurants following trend of reducing plastic straws
Each person in the U.S. will use more than 38,000 straws between the ages of five and 65.
The next time you go for a pizza at Community Pie in downtown Chattanooga, you'll see fewer straws in customer's glasses.
"Servers were going around handing out handfuls of straws to tables and not all of them are getting used. They're ending up in the trash," says Jennifer Jennings, operating partner.
The plastic straws often end up in our rivers, too. Even the unused straws that are still in their wrappers. Health code requires it.
So the owners, Mike and Taylor Monen, started a new policy in June making the straws optional at all five of their Chattanooga restaurants.
"We ask every table. We drop off the drinks and ask if they'd like a straw. A lot of people say no thanks, cool, thanks for passing on plastic," adds Jennings.
Two of those customers are Casey Taylor and her mother, Sherry, who are visiting from North Carolina. Taylor has been environmentally conscious most of her life.
"I'm a pretty horrible hippie, I would say. I've always loved nature. That's where I find rejuvenation," says Taylor.
Avoiding plastic straws might not seem like a game changer, but Taylor and many environmentalists think it can make a difference if we all get involved.
"It all adds up, the smallest little things. I try to do what I can," adds Taylor.
The Monens say more than 6,000 customers are served at their restaurants each day. That's a lot of straws in circulation. They understand that children and some people with disabilities have to use plastic straws, so the plan isn't to eliminate them.
Jennings hopes customers at the other restaurants are embracing the change as well as the people who come to Community Pie.
"We usually share a lot of similar customers and a lot of similar demographics. So, I'm sure they're experiencing the same thing," says Jennings.
She goes on to say that the Monens might consider switching to paper straws like the Tennessee Aquarium did last summer. Jennings also mentioned that all the Monen's restaurants recycle as much as possible, but the amount of plastic straws being recycled can't keep up with the amount being used. She says some customers bring their own reusable straws.
Around 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States every day, according to this website. Also, 500 million straws could fill more than 127 school buses. Each person in the U.S. will use more than 38,000 straws between the ages of five and 65.