Campaign encouraging Lowcountry restaurants to provide straws only upon request

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Working to go "Strawless."

On Monday, the "Strawless Summer" campaign kicked off for its second year.

The campaign encourages restaurants across the Lowcountry to provide straws only upon request, and empowers consumers to skip the straw when dining out.

The Charleston Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Charleston Chapter of the US Bartender's Guild started this campaign in 2017.

This year's Strawless Summer will run Memorial Day through Labor Day Weekend.

Last year's Strawless Summer campaign had more than 115 restaurants and bars take part, this year the goal is to double the amount taking the pledge, and encourage consumers to jump on board as well.

"In Charleston alone, we use more than 630,000 straws per day!" said Kate Dittloff who is the Rise Above Plastics coordinator for Charleston Surfrider. "What people don't realize is that every single use plastic straw ever created is somewhere on this planet in some way, shape or form because straws can't be recycled."

On average, Charleston Surfrider picks up more than 70 straws per hour during beach and marsh sweeps.

The goal of Strawless Summer is to keep single-use plastic straws out of the waste stream and our environment in order to protect wildlife and wild places.

Dittloff added straws cannot be recycled in most places.

"In most places actually they cannot recycle straws because of their shape," Dittloff said. "They have a very weird shape. They slip through the cracks – quite literally – of the machine equipment. They can cause the machines to get tied up and then they have to stop production, pull out the straw and then restart production. Which ultimately does cost taxpayer money because they are government-run institutions. So single-use plastic straws cannot be recycled. Even if you stick them in your recycling bin – they still end up in the trash."

"Strawless Summer is about making small and easy every day choices, that combine to create a massive impact," Megan Deschaine, the Vice President of Charleston's US Bartenders' Guild, said. "It's about planting seeds of change. Good hospitality means not only creating positive memories and experiences for our guests, but also being good stewards to our environment."

"I think on average for the smaller entities it was several thousand straws that were eliminated from the waste stream," Dittloff said about last year's campaign. "For the larger entities – it was upwards of one million."

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