Edmonton coffee shop offering plastic straw alternative: ‘We felt it’s our due diligence’

Crum Coffee Bar makes the switch to metal straws.
Crum Coffee Bar makes the switch to metal straws. Global News Edmonton

Edmonton’s Crum Coffee Bar will no longer be offering single-use plastic straws to its customers. Instead, reusable metal straws are for sale at the till for just under $3.

Crum still has plastic straws, but only hands them out if customers ask for them.

Mila Gossain, co-owner of the coffee shop on Calgary Trail near 46 Avenue, said she was inspired to make the switch after doing some research online.

“I saw video of a [turtle’s stomach after ingesting plastic] and it scarred me,” said Gossain. “Then I thought, [I’m] in an industry that revolves around straws and plastic.”

Overnight, she and her sister began work to make a switch to reusable straws at Crum.

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“We felt it’s our due diligence to do something about it,” said Gossain.

READ MORE: Some straws harm environment less, but cost more: Alberta distributor

After making the switch Wednesday, the duo weren’t sure how their customers would react.

“We were kind of nervous. How do we tell our regular customers we’re no longer popping straws in their drinks?”

But, customers welcomed the switch.

“Edmontonians, you hit them with a concept, explain the situation and they just jump right on board,” said Gossain.

“We were worried we were going to get backlash, but it’s been phenomenal. The reaction — everyone is so positive. People are walking out of Crum Coffee Bar super excited.”

READ MORE: Banning plastic straws — a look at how much it really helps, and who it could hurt

Gossain attributes the success partly to taking things slow.

“You can’t force [the movement] on to everyone. If you slowly transition people into [this] mindset, it’s so much easier than overnight going ‘no more straws, no more lids, you can figure your own stuff out.’”

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She said it proves small campaigns can make a difference.

“We took the risk and we pulled it off, as a local coffee shop. The big chains should be the ones doing it. It’s less risky for them. A customer told us we were making Starbucks look bad.”

Starbucks has committed to eliminating plastic straws within the next two years and introducing strawless lids.

A day after Starbucks announced it is getting rid of all straws by 2020, Boston Pizza said dozens of its Alberta locations would do so within a week. The pizza chain said bio-degradable or compostable straw will only be provided upon a customer’s request.

READ MORE: Northern Alberta Boston Pizza eliminating straws

For the Crum sisters, they hope a small step will begin to change people’s minds about plastic straws.

READ MORE: Edmonton restaurants join plastic straw ban movement, amid lack of committal from PM

“Refusing a single-use straw is the easiest way someone can reduce plastic pollution.”

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