A Helensburgh business has gone “straw free” in a bid to help the environment
Restaurateur Cara Nikolic was using more than 175,000 straws a year across her four premises in West Clyde Street and James Street, Helensburgh, when she decided to take action.
Cara says: “I wanted to do something after reading about single-use plastic and the three billion straws apparently used in Scotland each year. They are used for minutes and here for centuries. They pollute our seas, damage marine life and our environment. There are various campaigns out there calling for businesses and the government to take action and even for a 5p charge on straws like they do with plastic bags."
Cara continues: I’d noticed some customers asking for no straw or taking the straw out and I thought ‘why are we automatically putting straws in every drink?’ I just decided to go for it and called all four places on January 13 2018 and said, 'we stop using straws today'.
Business owner Cara then told all the restaurant customers on Facebook that they were no longer sticking straws in every drink and the response was fantastic, with hundreds of ‘likes’ and dozens of positive comments.
Cara also asked her Dumbarton supplier Astra Hygiene to confirm how many straws they were using, and to source alternative biodegradable straws. She was shocked to discover that the businesses were using an average of 3,300 straws a week or 175,300 a year across the four venues.
Cara explains, "Part of the problem is that straws are so cheap, 250 straws cost about 70 pence so we spent just £2.50 a week on straws in each premises but the plastic waste we were creating was huge. We’ve now switched to biodegradable paper straws and biodegradable plastic straws which are actually green in colour. They’re double the price of our old straws but that’s fine, we’ll still only use them if necessary for certain cocktails or if customers or children request them. So it makes sense however you look at it.”
The Helensburgh busineses already recycle glass, food waste, cardboard and plastic across all premises and Cara plans to see if there is anything more they can do.
Cara adds: “Stopping plastic straws was a no-brainer and I hope it becomes the norm across the hospitality and catering industry. Single-use plastic has always driven me mad in shops with so much coming in plastic containers which I then have to recycle at home. The immense quantities of plastic used to feed our single-use plastic addiction from plastic water bottles to straws worldwide is mind-boggling."
"You just have to walk along the beach to see what it is doing to our beautiful shoreline. It’s good to think we’ve done something with our customers to be part of the solution instead of the problem.”