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Ontario County launching new initiative to cut down on plastic straw waste

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Ontario County’s Department of Sustainability & Solid Waste Management is launching a new initiative aimed at reducing the number of plastic straws being thrown out in the area. The “Every Sip Counts” initiative will be launched on National Skip the Straw Day, February 24th.

According to estimates, as many as 390 million plastic straws get thrown away every year in the United States, and it takes a straw 200 years to breakdown. Studies have also found that the majority of customers choose not to take a straw when they are offered one.

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Participating local establishments are not required to get rid of straws entirely, but are instead asking customers to request a straw instead of being provided one automatically. Some restaurants have already taken it upon themselves to transition to paper straws or implement an opt-in approach.

The Every Sip Counts initiative is a call for all local establishments to join with those that are already making strides to reduce the negative impact of plastic waste on the environment.

“Many residents in our County already value our region’s environmental health and have adopted behaviors like skipping the straw or using reusable utensils when they are out,” stated Carla Jordan, Director of the Ontario County Department of Sustainability & Solid Waste Management. “Every Sip Counts is a great way for businesses to show their customers that they value it too, by helping reduce the use of single-use plastics in their establishments.”

In addition to the positive impacts on sustainability, deterring straw usage has other benefits like reducing operating costs. The Department of Sustainability has created tools and resources to help establishments implement this policy and promote it to their customers.

Local businesses that are interested in joining the initiative can get access to things like window decals, table tents, and pins for free by committing to implement the opt-in policy with their customers. The educational materials will be available for pickup during the kickoff event from 2-5pm on February 24 at New York Kitchen, or at the Department of Sustainability’s Office upon advanced request.

New York Kitchen’s Executive Director, Alyssa Belasco, stated, “Sustainability is one of New York Kitchen’s core values, and we are thrilled to champion the Every Sip Counts initiative alongside Ontario County. We invite others to join us in straw reduction efforts by simply shifting to providing straws upon request, and collectively, these efforts will help to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The straw reduction effort is just one part of the ongoing waste diversion efforts of the county. The Department of Sustainability & Solid Waste Management provides information and resources to support Ontario County residents in their recycling and waste reduction efforts throughout the year.