Make a Personal Commitment and Share it
The first step is to decide that you've had your Last Plastic Straw. Make a personal commitment to say "no" to plastic straws. Whenever ordering a drink, politely request “no straw, please.” Once you've taken the plunge, begin to encourage your family and friends to do the same.
It can be helpful to explain to the server why you don't want a plastic straw. Most people just don't give it any thought. By politely explaining that you don't need a straw and you'd rather not use one to avoid unnecessary waste, you might already trigger a mind shift in the person serving you.
If you really like using a straw then why not carry your own paper, glass, bamboo, or stainless steel straw instead.
Here's a handy guide for when you're out and about in bars and restaurants:
SCOPE IT - TAKE A LOOK AROUND…
Are there plastic straws in glasses at tables?
Do all or most drinks have plastic straws in them?
SAY IT - ORDER YOUR DRINKS WITH NO STRAW
Explain politely why you don’t want or need a straw.
SUPPORT IT - GIVE EM’ SOME LOVE!
Give your server positive affirmation for honouring and fulfilling your request
of serving you a drink without a straw!
SHARE IT - SOCIAL MEDIA POST
Give the bar or restaurant a positive review on social media
Share by posting a photo to Instagram with hashtags: #NoPlasticStraws,
#PlasticPollutes & any specific hashtags to your or other groups working
to rid plastic pollution.
Arrange a Community Viewing of STRAWS
STRAWS is a 30 minute award-winning documentary that leaves you with a clear understanding of the problems caused by plastic pollution and clearly articulates how each of us can be part of the solution.
Watching this together as a group (either the small team you've gathered to work on this idea with you, or a wider community group) will ensure that everyone has a good understanding of the problem and feels motivated and ready to take action! It might be fun to watch it together and then have a small panel discussion afterwards around the extent of the problem in your community and the steps you can take together to make change.
Here's the Trailer:
STRAWS documentary film official trailer from By the Brook Productions on Vimeo.
Screening Rights for Community Events and Educational Use
In order to screen STRAWS (or any film) to the public, a public performance license is required. The good people at STRAWS are willing to offer a 20% discount to any ChangeX communities interested in hosting a screening. Consider finding community sponsors and screening partners to help cover the licensing fee and screening expenses. Admission and a donation ask at the screening can also be a simple way to cover the costs. You can email strawsfilm(at)gmail.com for a link to download STRAWS promotional and screening tool kit items or you can find more information here
Map out Local Businesses
You've made a personal commitment to stop using plastic straws, you've raised awareness of the issue with your family and friends. Your next step is to begin encouraging local bars and restaurants to join you on the movement!
Over 1,800 restaurants have already joined the movement globally and those that implement a 'straws only upon request' policy report a 60-90% reduction in plastic straw use and waste.
With your team, identify how many bars and restaurants in your town / city / area you'd like to speak to. It's okay to start with a small number and slowly build from there. Remember the handy guide we looked at it in Step 1 - Scope it, Say it.. You can use this framework when identifying which bars and restaurants you need to talk to. Some won't serve straws at all, some will already implement a straws upon request policy. Start by making a list of places that give out straws without request. Shifting their behaviour will have the biggest impact. Their first step will be to shift to only giving out straws upon request and the next step is to begin phasing out plastic straws completely.
When you've completed your research and mapping, you'll have a list that falls into 3 categories:
- Giving plastic straws without request
- Giving plastic straws upon request
- Not using plastic straws
Category 1 needs urgent action! Category 2 may require action and Category 3 should be recognised and celebrated!
Ask Local Businesses to Make the Pledge
Now that you have a list of relevant businesses, you're ready to start the real work of talking to them and asking them to change their protocol to serving straws only upon request.
When talking to them, give them a little bit of background on the issue and why it's causing so much damage to our beaches and waterways. They might also find the issue of single-use plastic overwhelming but by emphasising how big an impact they can have, just by taking this one small step to move to serving straws only upon request, make them feel excited and empowered to change things.
Businesses have two options, they can move to straws only upon request or they can fully phase out plastic straws and move to an alternative type of straw. There are lots of options that are more environmentally friendly. You can find a full list of the alternatives right here
There are some very useful resources in the Resources Section that will come in handy when talking to businesses, here you'll find:
- Cards - you can print these out and leave them in bars and restaurants, they look great and they very quickly explain what bars and restaurants can do
- The Pledge - ask the owner or manager to sign the pledge to officially become part of the global movement. They'll get really nice sea turtle stickers that they can put on their window to let everyone know they're part of the movement.
- Table tents - you can give these to the restaurant to print out and put on tables, so that people know the policy
Find all the resources here
Remember when talking to restaurants that this is a very positive thing for them to do, their customers will love them more for it, it will save them money and save them a lot of waste - it really is a win win!
Track your Progress & Next Steps
Remember the list of local businesses you had at Step 3? The goal is to move as many as possible of these businesses into category 3. Once you have a couple of positive examples and stories, many more will jump on the bandwagon. Don't forget to give these businesses a shout out through social media channels so that they begin to share this positive message with both their customers and other businesses.
At this stage, you may be ready to expand the geographical scope of your work by talking to more bars and restaurants in your town or city. If you've covered all the businesses in your area, maybe you're ready to move onto the next stage of making your community plastic-free?
If so, congratulations and check out this blogpost for more inspirational and actionable ideas to reduce plastic pollution in your community.