Sometimes I think that the invention of the plastic straw was just a stroke of genius. A small tube that appeared clean, hygienic and even colourful made sipping on those drinks all the more fun. It probably seemed perfect back then, when there weren’t as many coffee shops and bars using hundreds of plastic straws every day. But today, this little item of convenience seems to have become a problem bigger than what anyone of us could have anticipated.
Sometime last year, a digital campaign called #RefuseTheStraw took the internet by storm. People began talking about the adverse effects plastic straws can have because of how frequently they’re used in modern times. A video showing an endangered turtle with a plastic straw stuck inside it went viral and definitely created an impact big enough to get restaurants and bars to think about the magnitude of plastic waste they generate.
Saying that plastic waste generation is a major problem would be an understatement – a huge portion of it remains uncollected and a lot of it is cast off into the ocean. And whatever makes it to the bottom of the ocean tends to stay there for years. Especially, if it’s plastic. Straws are a bigger challenge for two main reasons: quantity and size. They’re too small to be recycled and animals often mistake them for food. Not only is it an active agent of animal deaths but also is a source of water pollution.
However, awareness seems to be creeping in. A recent statewide ban on disposable plastic items by the Maharashtra government, making it the 18th state to impose such a ban, has forced everyone to give up plastic. Supermarkets are now selling bags made out of recyclable materials. Restaurants and bars too are finding creative ways to go eco-friendly, with the help of Onelesspieceofplastic – an online campaign fighting for change in India. Of course, plastic is easy; it’s convenient when we don’t think about the consequences of its use. Taking responsibility of our actions and impact on the planet is often a challenge, and today we look at some of the restaurants and bars in Mumbai that have taken it upon themselves to reduce their (and subsequently consumer’s) carbon footprint. Ditching plastic straws for sustainable alternatives may seem like a small step, and one that often comes at a higher cost by comparison, but when you look at the sheer magnitude of its impact, it’s worth it.
It has almost been three months since Social decided to quit using plastic straws in all its outlets across Mumbai. They have now switched to paper straws instead – a change that came about after the plastic ban was imposed by the Maharashtra government. They have even started using other government approved sustainable materials for their takeaway orders.
Clearly, ahead of its time, Bird Song has been organic since its inception. Their straws and bags are made of paper and their water bottles are all made of glass. They have also managed to tackle one of the biggest challenges of going eco-friendly, by storing food in containers made of food grade plastic––a certain kind of plastic that is substantially less harmful and follows standards laid down by the government. This is done so as to maintain hygiene and not compromise on the quality of food.
III. Kala Ghoda Cafe
The Kala Ghoda cafe has been trying to take conscious steps towards environment conservation in its own ways. Organic since the beginning, the cafe only uses paper straws and paper bags for takeaway purposes.
IV. Pizza By The Bay
One of the first few restaurants to respond to the plastic ban, Pizza by the Bay switched to paper straws a week after the announcement was made. They provide takeaway in jute carry bags, instead of plastic ones; definitely a more durable and eco-friendly alternative. Having received positive responses from their customers for the same, they’re currently working on alternative materials that can be used for packaging as well.
As soon as you walk into The Bagel Shop and place your order, the staff straight up informs you that they don’t use plastic straws anymore. They even have a #refusethestraw poster on the wall and are pretty firm about their decision. However, if a customer does insist, they gladly offer paper straws instead.
VI. The Pantry
The Pantry’s take on giving up plastic is quite unique - they offer both paper as well as steel straws to their customers. Their takeaway cutlery is made out of wood and containers are made from cornstarch which is completely biodegradable. It has been two years since they decided to go eco-friendly. It wasn’t easy, as all these materials have to be sourced from different parts of the country but they’ve found interesting methods and been pretty creative.
VII. The Little Door
The Little Door’s owner is not a big fan of straws himself so most of the cocktails on their menu don’t actually require straws. Additionally, they’re urging their customers to recycle their straws for as many drinks as they can.
VIII. The Daily Bar & Kitchen
The Daily Bar & Kitchen in Bandra too has switched from plastic straws to paper straws ever since the ban was imposed. They have also started using disposable glasses and bags made out of paper.
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