Sudbury restaurants ditching plastic straws for more sustainable options

It only took two days for Kuppajo Espresso Bar to sell out of reusable bamboo and stainless steel straws.

Last Straw Sudbury encouraging local businesses to go straw-free June 21

Several restaurants in Sudbury are getting rid of plastic straws and offering customers more sustainable options. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

It only took two days for Kuppajo Espresso Bar to sell out of reusable bamboo and stainless steel straws.

"We put them out and people loved them. I cannot believe how much they loved them," Betty-Anne Serre, the owner of the downtown Sudbury coffee shop, said.

Kuppajo is one of several local restaurants that are saying goodbye to the plastic straw, and instead offering customers more sustainable alternatives to sip their beverages with.

Bans on plastic straws are becoming more common around the world, as part of a growing international movement to reduce plastic waste.

Single-use plastics including straws are now prohibited in the Californian city of Malibu, and Vancouver is currently in the process of developing its own plastics ban. On Friday, fast food restaurant A&W also vowed to phase out plastic straws at its Canadian locations.

Kuppajo Espresso Bar sold out of these reusable bamboo straws, which include a wire brush for cleaning, in two days. The downtown coffee shop is one of several local businesses that is trading plastic straws for more sustainable alternatives. (Supplied/Kuppajo Espresso Bar)

Go straw-free

Community group Last Straw Sudbury is hoping local businesses will do the same, and is calling on restaurants and coffee shops to go straw-free on June 21st.

Chanel Lalonde, one of the people behind the group, says it's an easy way to reduce the waste, which often ends up in oceans and waterways and can be harmful to wildlife.

Lalonde said Last Straw Sudbury was inspired by a similar initiative in Toronto that resulted in 150 eateries eliminating plastic straws entirely.

So far the group has gotten four restaurants on board, including the Cedar Nest Decor Cafe, Frubar Juicery, Be Greater Organics and Old Rock Coffee.

Betty-Anne Serre hopes to eventually get rid of plastic straw permanently at Kuppajoe Espresso Bar. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

Serre also wants to ditch plastic straws permanently, now that her customers can use their reusable versions.

"When you come into Kuppajo, I expect you to bring your straws with you because gradually I would like to get rid of my straws," she said.

Paper or plastic?

Twiggs Coffee Roasters has already made the switch, with paper straws available at their locations in Sudbury, North Bay and Sturgeon Falls.

"We've been really trying to get more involved in being actually conscious and more aware for our customers and for ourselves," said owner Laura Twigg, who added that the decision was a no-brainer.

"Our whole team, we all have children, so thinking ahead and looking to the future for our kids is huge. But just in general you don't want to leave the world already worse than it is."

Not everyone has been a fan of the change, though. While the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Twigg said there are still some naysayers who aren't a fan of the paper options.

Lalonde said it can be difficult for people to let go of their old ways, but when it comes to eliminating plastic waste, straws are one of the easiest changes to make with so many alternatives on the market.

Channel Lalonde and Trista Leblanc are with Last Straw Sudbury. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

She added that Last Straw is planning to help educate people about the options that are available to them.

"We are hoping to inspire businesses within the upcoming year enough to just completely get rid of straws or go for an alternative — either metal straws, paper straws or bamboo straws," she said.

"There are a lot of businesses in Sudbury who are very open-minded to change, so we're hoping that by next year we have half of Sudbury going straw free."

About the Author

Robin De Angelis

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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