Right in time for Earth Day, and in advance of a recent Suffolk Law banning plastic straws, 12 restaurants in the downtown village of Huntington have signed a “Strawless Pledge.” In December 2018, local volunteers visited 70 establishments asking owners to make the Pledge to: 1) Go completely strawless OR, 2) Provide biodegradable (paper, bamboo, hay, or other) straws only upon request OR, 3) Provide reusable alternatives to plastic (stainless steel, glass, or other). An additional 7 restaurants have voluntarily moved in that direction, even without taking a pledge, and five more have expressed interest.
Green Inside and Out, a Huntington-based nonprofit organization, led the campaign to urge Huntington village restaurants to make the switch. The campaign was coordinated with the Huntington High School Environmental Club, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, the Long Island Sierra Club, Starflower Experiences, Healthy Planet, and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society who all sent volunteers to talk to restaurants and distribute information. Originally spearheaded by the East End Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, their “Strawless Summer” campaign has encouraged over 35 restaurants on the East End of Long Island to take the same Pledge.
Just last week, the Suffolk County Legislature adopted a law to take effect in January 2020, requiring restaurants to only offer biodegradable straws and stirrers. The effort emerged through the Single Use Plastics Committee, led by Legislator Kara Hahn, who sponsored the resolution. Last summer she had announced an awareness campaign called "Strawless Suffolk.” Each restaurant signing the pledge in Huntington received a Strawless Suffolk door decal so customers can identify them right up front.
We thank the following restaurants for taking the pledge:
bee-ORGANIC, 24 Wall St, Huntington, NY
Hatch, 286 Main St, Huntington, NY
Kai Poke, 328 Main St, Huntington, NY
Mac’s Steakhouse, 12 Gerard St, Huntington, NY
New York Panini, 9 Wall St, Huntington, NY
Pazzo Paisanos, 345 Main St, Huntington, NY
Osteria da Nino, 292 Main St Huntington, Huntington, NY
Red Restaurant, 417 New York Ave, Huntington, NY
The Rust & Gold, 70 Gerard St, Huntington, NY
Sapsuckers Hops & Grub, 287 Main St, Huntington, NY
Stella Blue, 188 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY
The Shed Restaurant, 54 New St, Huntington, NY
Why care about straws? Straws in our waterways pose a danger to sea turtles, fish and other ocean wildlife due to ingestion or suffocation. Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the U.S alone. Ocean Conservancy volunteers have picked up more than 9 million straws and stirrers from beaches and waterways over the 30 years they have been conducting beach cleanups. Many fish ingest pieces of plastic, which may lead to human exposure to plasticizers or other contaminants that adhere to the plastics. Since straws are usually unnecessary, they can be avoided relatively easily, and they are rarely recycled. Under the new law, restaurants may retain some plastic straws for customers who may be physically unable to drink from a glass without a straw.
“The Suffolk legislation is a huge success, and I am even prouder of these restaurants in my home town of Huntington Village who have stepped up to be proactive in protecting our environment,” said Beth Fiteni, Director of Green Inside and Out. For more information on the campaign, see www.greeninsideandout.org/resources/plastics.