Days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evaded a question at a Commonwealth summit of whether Canada would consider a plastic straw ban, many Edmonton restaurants are adding their voices and support for the growing movement.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eradicate plastic waste, including plastic straws, by 2042. Trudeau skirted the question, but did say he will “talk about this with the G7 nations and look at the solutions.”
For Jordan Beatty, the general manager of Sherlock Holmes in downtown Edmonton, the answer is simple – get rid of plastic straws.
“I think we should do it. I think it’s single-use plastic and I don’t think it is necessary,” he said.
The restaurant, along with four others in the restaurant group, decided to do away with straws approximately two months ago and implemented the straw ban roughly six weeks ago.
Beatty said the idea of a straw ban came to him during a recent trip to the Dominican Republic with his wife. He said the resort the pair was staying at was straw-free but the idea of a ban was really cemented during a diving trip.
“We said we’re going to go back and see if we can do our part, taking an example from the resort we’re staying at.”
Beatty said his location was going through three boxes of 2,200 straws every week. He estimates the Sherlock Holmes Hospitality Group was using more than a million straws a year.
The restaurant will provide straws if people who have disabilities require them but even then, Beatty said the straws are made of paper.
According to the United Nations, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans by 2050 unless people stop using single-use plastic items.
Beatty said he thinks there is a lack of political will on the issue.
“I think people are afraid of change. I think people are afraid of little things that are creature comforts and I think that should be coming from the top down,” he said.
There is a growing call from restaurants in cities across the country to ban straws, including Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax.
Customer Joanne Pearcy said the straw ban is a good idea.
“Anything we can eliminate that we don’t need, it’s all good,” she said.
“I have a straw at home I used to drink coffee and it is several years old. It goes in the dishwater, gets drained and I keep reusing it.”
After sitting down, Pearcy admits she initially did not realize she did not have a straw in her glass of water.
“I didn’t notice until I found out you were here,” she said, referring to the Global News crew at the restaurant.
Local Public Eatery in South Edmonton Common used to go through 10,000 straws every few weeks until server Renee Wiegman suggested the restaurant do away with the single use plastic item.
“I just think it’s very wasteful and I want to get away from that,” she said.
Wiegman said the move was implemented roughly one month ago, though plastic straws are still available by request.
“A lot fewer people are asking for straws than I anticipated. It’s actually been pretty well-received,” she said.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association tells Global News that it is in favour of improving ocean health but when it comes to a ban on plastic straws and other plastic products, the industry wants to talk to Ottawa about other solutions.
As for Beatty, he admits the plastic straw is a small item, but he believes a ban can go a long way.
“One little thing can affect things huge all across the world.”
-with files from Global News and David Akin