April 13, 2018 3:35 pm
Updated: April 13, 2018 4:49 pm

Toronto restaurants pushing for elimination of plastic straws to reduce waste

WATCH ABOVE: Cocktail hour this holiday season could really suck for the straw industry. Some establishments are ditching those plastic sticks as public backlash grows against what environmental activists call a huge waste and threat to sea life. Minna Rhee reports. (Dec. 29)

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A movement that’s been sweeping the globe has made it to Toronto in the last few months and it’s attempting to suck out the waste — one straw at a time.

The Last Straw Toronto was started by Jillian Lucas and Tiffany Leeson, both industry veterans, who are all too aware of the waste produced in the hospitality industry.

The project aims to encourage restaurants and bars in the GTA to stop using plastic straws on April 21st and have designated the day “The Last Straw.”

“Jillian approached me about her starting this project and I immediately asked to be involved as we are both very eco-conscious individuals who work towards a low-impact lifestyle,” Leeson told Global News.

Leeson and Lucas started the project by using contacts they already had in the industry. The Craft Brasserie & Grille in Liberty Village was the first to sign on.

Using the hashtag #StopSuckingToronto, over 100 restaurants, including Hemingway’s on Cumberland street and the Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District, have jumped on board the initiative.

Similar to other campaigns such as Strawless Ocean, Be Straw Free and The Last Plastic Straw, The Last Straw encourages bar and restaurant owners to stop putting plastic straws in the drinks they serve because of the environmental impact.

READ MORE: City of Vancouver moving to reduce use of straws in bars, restaurants

The movement peaked when a group of marine biologists in Costa Rica found an Olive Ridley seaturtle, an endangered species, with a roughly 10 cm plastic straw lodged in its nostril. The biologists filmed the extraction and the video went viral.

Scientists warn that sea inhabitants, like whales or turtles, are mistaking plastic floating in the ocean as food. In February, an emaciated sperm whale washed up on the coast of Spain. They found 64 pounds of plastic in its stomach, clogging its intestines. This is believed to have caused infection eventually impacting the digestive system and making it impossible for the whale to expel anything, according to officials in the region of Murcia.

It takes plastic straws and stirrers up to 200 years to biodegrade. They’re also featured as the 11th plastic most likely to be found in ocean environmental clean-ups, according to Get Green Now.

The Last Straw Toronto press release says “they thought this would be a good fit for Toronto’s thriving bar and restaurant community.” Veterans of the industry themselves, they said they’ve seen first hand the amount of straws thrown out each day.

By 5:30 p.m. on Friday, The Last Straw Toronto said 103 bars signed up.

“We are blown away by the support we have received from the industry,” said Leeson.

Toronto bars and restaurants that want to hop on board this environmental initiative can do so through The Last Straw Toronto website.

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