A staggering number of plastic waste winds up in landfills every day.
“In Canada, we use 57-million plastic straws a day, that’s 15 school buses,” said Environment Lethbridge’s executive director, Kathleen Sheppard.
One Lethbridge restaurant is now motivated to make some changes.
“I think a sense of community is also about social responsibility and minimizing our footprint,” said Mocha Cabana’s co-owner, Angel Harper.
The local restaurant no longer puts straws in their drinks. A decision they say matches their business’ values of sourcing the most compostable and biodegradable products.
This change aligns with similar initiatives across the country.
“Straws are very hard to recycle,” said Harper. They don’t sort properly at recycling facilities, they get into our waterways, into our sewers.”
For those who prefer drinking from a straw, there are still options while dining at Mocha Cabana.
“We’ve brought in a biodegradable straw, it costs 10 cents, and then we purchased reusable stainless-steel straws, that a customer might like to purchase and then they can keep that,” noted Harper.
Harper says the biodegrable straws, if thrown into the garbage, will dissolve within 14 days — unlike their plastic predecessor.
Mocha Cabana isn’t alone in Lethbridge — Cuppers Coffee and Tea has been reducing their plastic usage for several years.
“We actually have had compostable cups and lids for a long time and the jackets that go with them,” said inventory manager at Cuppers Coffee and Tea, Nancy Graham. “We have just switched to compostable straws, but we also recycle all our cardboard, all of our bubble wrap that we receive all of our goods in. Even the byproducts of roasting the coffee gets recycled and reused.”
A Lethbridge environmental group welcomes the intiatives, which coincide with the theme for an upcoming environmental challenge.
“This year, we’re doing a ‘Say no to single-use plastics challenge,'” said Environment Lethbridge executive director Kathleen Sheppard. “So we’re encouraging people for the week to go out of their way to not use those single-use items, whether it’s straws, coffee cups, water bottles, plastic bags.”
The weeklong challenge runs from June 3 to 9 but Environment Lethbridge hopes it can help residents drink up a new habit.