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'It's the right thing to do' : Environment committee to discuss drinking straw reduction strategy

Councillor Tony Mancini will be putting forward a motion to study reducing or eliminating the use of plastic drinking straws
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(stock photo)

Straws will be on the agenda when the environment and sustainability standing committee meets Thursday.

Harbourview – Burnside – Dartmouth East councillor Tony Mancini wants Halifax Regional Municipality to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic drinking straws and he will be putting forward a motion to ask staff to study the issue.

During a recent shore cleanup, Mancini said straws were one of the more commonly found items of trash.

"It's one piece of a big puzzle, but I think this is one of the easier ones," he said.

The idea is already getting a lot of support in the community.

Environmentalist and restaurateur Lil MacPherson said this is a goal that everyone should be working towards.

"It's one of those easy, low-hanging fruit items that we can just grab," she told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show. "Everybody knows the environmental issues are mounting in the world and we just have to take charge."

MacPherson has never used plastic straws at her restaurants.

When the Wooden Monkey opened they started off with biodegradable straws, but she said the municipality doesn't allow them to be composted properly so now they only give them out to customers who specifically ask for them.

"I think that's the best way to go, it really cuts down," she said.

Her staff put cards on every table explaining why a drinking straw won't automatically be coming with an ordered drink and she said they're rarely requested.

The Atlantic vice-president for Restaurants Canada wants his organization to play a role in a straw reduction strategy.

"They're not being recycled as well as they should, they end up in litter," Luc Erjavec told The Sheldon MacLeod Show. "It's the right thing to do and we're going to do our part to show a leadership role."

Gerry Post, the executive director of the Accessibility Directorate, said there are people in the disability community who need straws to drink, but they can be easily accommodated in a reduction policy.

"Perhaps make it a voluntary thing for people to ask for straws. If that doesn't work perhaps ban straws but have straws available for those who need them," he explained. "There's no magic there, it's quite simple."

Erjavec added a straw might also be needed for customers who purchase a thick milkshake or order a drink in a drive-thru, but overall he thinks a straws-by-request strategy would help both the environment and the bottom line of restaurants in HRM.

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for
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