After calls at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London last week for a ban on plastic straws in all Commonwealth nations, a Kingston restaurateur is trying to do his part to make a difference.
Tim Pater of Black Dog Hospitality, which owns several restaurants in town, has replaced all plastic straws with plant-based ones.
Pater, who owns Le Chien Noir, Atomica, Harper’s Burger Bar and Diane’s Fish Shack and Smokehouse, says that although it’s more expensive to go with compostable straws, for him it’s worth it.
“We all have to be aware of how serious the problem is. There is an island in the Pacific, three-times the size of France, of plastic floating around.”
But plastic pollution is not only an issue in oceans, it is also affecting local water systems in the Kingston area.
“We know that a lot of those small products like disposable plastic straws are ending-up in there and they are polluting our waterways,” says Heather Robert from Kingston solid waste. Despite that knowledge, she says the city is not testing the effects of all the plastic going into the local waterways.
During the Commonwealth summit, which took place April 16-20, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to do away with plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action.”
Although Trudeau was asked to bring Canada into the fold on the plastic ban, the prime minister simply answered that he would be considering various solutions to the plastic issue.
Despite the prime minister’s trepidation on a plastic ban, restaurateurs all around Canada are making the move away from plastic straws.
Pater says it may be a small step, but at least it’s raising awareness of the plastic problem, especially plaguing water systems. Pater says he’s a scuba diver and that he takes a special interest in keeping lakes and oceans free of plastic.
He says he and his businesses have always tried to be environmentally conscious. He says that if everyone does their part, it can add up.
“Even taking that one step of not automatically putting straws in every drink. Do we really need it?”
This move from Pater comes on the heels of Kingston’s annual pitch-in week, run by Sustainable Kingston, in which businesses and volunteers are invited to gather and clean the streets, parks and waterfronts in the area of debris left over from the winter.
This year, the 10-day event had 5,365 volunteers sign up for the city’s spring cleaning. The event also expanded its focus in 2018 to the waterways in the area by partnering with The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, an organization run out of the Vancouver Aquarium that has been organizing shoreline cleanups across the country since the early 2000s.
CKWS met up with one group cleaning up along Kingston’s inner harbour.
Eric Gallaway, one of the volunteers, says he found a number of things in the water and beached on the shore where they were cleaning up.
“Just debris and litter accumulating from over the winter,” says Gallaway who added that he found “a lot of straws.”
The event began April 15 and finishes Tuesday. On Wednesday, all the bags of garbage collected by volunteers will be picked up by the city.
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