Plastic Straws: The Sequel

The drive to eliminate (or diminish) plastic straws in Westport — reported yesterday on “06880” — is a multi-pronged battle.

RTM member Andrew Colabella — the youngest elected official, and a member of the body’s Environment Committee — brought up the idea and started researching it then.

He has met with over 16 managers, owners, chefs and staffs of Westport’s many restaurants.

His goal is “to change the material of a product that we use for a couple of minutes at convenience” — which then sits in a landfill for hundreds of years. 

Colabella is taking aim too at styrofoam containers and cups, even plastic foodware.

He has gotten signatures on a petition, and has drafted an ordinance. He’s contacted the Westport Weston Health District and Conservation Commission about enforcement, and is using their feedback for a final edit.

As of now, these restaurants have joined the campaign:

  • Terrain
  • Amis
  • Spotted Horse
  • The Granola Bar
  • Westport Farmers’ Market
  • Joey’s By The Shore
  • Little Barn
  • Saugatuck Sweets
  • Viva Zapata’s
  • Match Burger Lobster
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Sakura
  • The Pearl at Longshore
  • Westport Pizzeria
  • Bartaco
  • Winfield Street Coffee & Deli

Meanwhile, Staples High School students — and even younger ones, like Bedford Middle Schooler Michael Rossi Pontoriero —  have worked to eliminate plastic straws, and plastic wrapping on individual utensils in Westport schools. Details will be finalized this fall.

It takes a village — to rid a village of plastic.

27 responses to “Plastic Straws: The Sequel

  1. Plastic is not evil. Inappropriate disposal of plastic is the problem.

    There are people who require access to straws to function in society. Traveling with reusable straws is not always an option.

    Recyclable styrofoam packaging is also an inexpensive consideration for large companies that deal with takeout and other mass serving of food. Contaminated foodware because of incomplete cleaning that results in illness is a risk, too.

    The discussion is not one-sided and while plastic in our landfills and in our water systems is bad, the use of plastic is not without its advocates — even well meaning liberal ones.

    • Jill Greenberg

      Along this line, I think this conversation needs to bring all stake holders to the table. I conversation with individuals with a range of physical and cognitive disabilities/differences, rely on plastic straws everyday. Will those people be marginalized? ostracized? How does this passionate plan account for everyone in our community, and what efforts have you made to understand those who use plastic (straws or otherwise). Passion and good intentions do not automatically translate to a good and just outcome.

      • Catherine Calise

        Just a lot of BALONEY. Anything made out of plastic can be made out of biodegradable material. And if it cannot, we most likely do not need it!

      • All restaurants I have spoken to are pushing for this move.

        Straws would still be available but upon request. Couple of legislators and individuals with disabilities I have spoken to have tried the numerous products that are out there and find them just as beneficial.

        Bamboo or even metal straws that are pre-bent are in the market and newer products are being introduced everyday. Some even Carey their own straws.

        At the end of the day, the use of a product for a couple minutes at most to lay in a landfill for hundreds of years is irresponsible.

        It’s been introduced and passed legislation throughout the West cost in major towns and cities.

    • I never said plastic is evil. If that’s what you get from my initiative you’re misinformed. The idea of using something once and not being able to be recycled or lay in a landfill for hundreds of years is irresponsible.

      Terrain, will be opening up 17 locations next year. All their waste will be compostable and on site. They’re taking the initiative much farther which I applaud Miss Bengston for. Sean Nelson of Patagonia and Ms. Cochran of the Farmers Market in town have proposed and made large strides in this. It’s a team project to lead westport to Net Zero waste by 2050 but hopefully other communities will follow.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Plastic is everywhere, especially in our seas.
      Go ahead and eat the fish on your plate, plastic too.

  2. Cornelia Fortier

    I talked to Green & Tonic about their plastic straws but they were not persuaded. Maybe now that Andrew has made inroads with these other places, they’ll come around. Good work, Andrew!

  3. Please add mylar helium ballons to the elimination list.

    As a beachcomber and hiker, I see a dozen a day in despoiling the environment. – Chris Woods

  4. Joes Pizza, Oko and 190 Main have joined also. Bartaco has joined and is already abusing their own straws and food containers!

    Westport pizzeria, joeys, Sakura, Amis, Vivas, are currently phasing out and searching for suitable products to their likings that are of biodegradable material.

    Please be patient as these food establishments phase out their materials and make the switch. But it’s happening.

    It’s been since January when I committed to this research but there is quick change.

    Please Email me for any questions! There is also a petition

  5. Susam Ellis

    We have been encouraging restaurant owners and servers not to automatically include a plastic straw with water or other beverages, but–of course–to provide them on request to anyone who asks for one. I’m old enough to remember paper straws. Perhaps they’ll make a comeback.

    • Tracy Flood

      Bob LaRose at Bobby Q’s in Norwalk has already made the switch. Paper straws – brought me back to my childhood.

  6. It is wonderful that so many people have joined the #stopsucking movement, but let’s give credit to Lori Cochran-Dougall and the Westport Farmers’ Market, who brought the movement to Fairfield County a year ago. Long before it was a trendy cause, Lori began working tirelessly to persuade market vendors, local chefs and restaurants to switch to paper or reusable straws. Her relationships with all stake holders was vital in the beginning, when #stopsucking was just in its infancy. Kudos to everyone who is now working towards this goal.

  7. William Strittmatter

    I thought the concern raised was about what was ending up in the waterways (you know, the straw in the sea turtle’s nose picture), not what was properly disposed of in landfills etc.

    If it really includes everything that ends up in a landfill though, why not start at home? Putting aside all of the plastic bottles (because, of course, they are assiduously recycled) there are plenty of helpful but ultimately unnecessary plastics we all regularly toss into the non-recycled waste stream.

    So, let’s start with: No more ziplock storage bags. No more hefty trash bags. No more Saran Wrap. And, of course, no more disposable diapers.

    I’m sure there are more things to do in our grocery shopping habits. No more pre-packaged meats – buy only meats from butcher case wrapped in paper. No more deli items unless they are wrapped in paper. No more yogurt in plastic packaging. Forget about the chip aisle. Don’t bag the fresh produce in those nasty plastic bags. Plenty of other things if we think about it.

    I mean, if we don’t each step up first, isn’t it pushing it to ask others to do so? Or are we only anti-plastic as long as it isn’t inconvenient for us personally?

  8. Holly Wheeler

    Before plastic straws, there were paper straws, and they worked just fine. Recently I saw a Coke ad on TV that had a paper straw with the Coke logo printed on it.
    And Evan, there is no appropriate disposal of plastic. It has to be recycled, which takes both initiative on the part of the user and money to morph it into a different plastic item … or it will still be around when your great grandchildren’s grandchildren are born.

    • Recycling is an appropriate disposal stream.

      Machine based separation is a method that is growing more efficient and effective by true year. That’s how municipalities can support single stream disposal and still meet recycling goals.

      There are other solutions besides bans.

  9. Holly Wheeler

    I forgot to add … Andrew, thanks for your wonderful work! If restaurants would begin using the biodegradable paper take out containers that one finds at Whole Foods, no more styrofoam. Today Westport, tomorrow McDonalds !!!

  10. Hi Dan,

    I wanted to share with you a compelling perspective on the rush to ban plastic straws. While I am a huge advocate of the plastic straw bans, I am also a corporate lawyer who works on ADA and accessibility issues.

    Since this hot topic has exploded, an often-sidelined community of individuals with disabilities have been forgotten. We should all take a step back and integrate accessibility into our steps to remediate environmental harms.

    Feel free to share and as always, thanks for keeping Westport informed. I moved here almost a year ago and not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy your posts!

    Best regards, Ewa


  11. Excellent work, Andrew! I love your commitment to making your community better. I am sure your ordinance will find a way to draft an exception for the disabled. Keep up the great work! ~Kristan Hamlin

  12. Jonathan Greenfield

    Great comments!! And great work being done by Westport residents and students alike! 👏🏼👏🏼

    Please understand that in circa 30 years there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. And that fact is part a huge threat to humanity as every 2nd breath you take comes from the ocean. Plastic is disrupting the food chain in the ocean, along with runoff and over fishing, etc. . And once that disruption is complete, the ocean will die, and sometime after, we will too. This isn’t Science Fiction, or Fantasy, but fact. And a greater threat to us than ISIS, or the boogeyman coming to get you.

    Recycling programs cannot come close to solving the problem. Let’s not fool ourselves. The only, and I mean only, solution is to vote with your dollars. Westport sent a strong message a decade ago with the ban of plastic bags. Can imagine the change in industry if half the towns in the USA took that stance?

    There is no place for single use plastic and styrofoam containers in our world. There are so many alternatives and solutions. For starters, look at how Taiwan tackled the problem and cleaned up what once were filthy cities. They still have a long way to go, but a majority of people in Taiwan travel around with reusable chop sticks. Can you imagine carrying around a reusable cutlery/flat ware set? — I’m glad to see companies like Starbucks taking action. But they are too slow, and their new top is plastic and will end up in a landfill, or waterway the same way a plastic straw will. The ocean doesn’t discriminate.

    We are the solution. We can’t wait for Govt. or industry to solve the problem. What can you do right now? Bring your own reusable cup, or container to Starbucks, or your favorite tea and coffee shop, and ask, “please fill my cup”. It’s so easy!! Think about buying in bulk with reusable bags, etc. A few changes can have a huge impact if we all get onboard.

    Not to self promote. You can follow the link below to a short YouTube video I made last year after surfing in Rockaway about this. Just last week I was attacked again by a plastic bag while surfing!! Beach cleanups and Take3 are very important. But collectively we can stop plastic and trash from filling our beaches with a few simile actions. Please consider it. We all need to work together on this – now.

  13. Jack Backiel

    Dan, As far as I’m concerned, this is “the last straw” and people had better start thinking about the environment!

  14. Lori Winthrop Dockser

    Go westport!

  15. Nancy Rebold

    This has been an effort in the works for several months by many groups and individuals . The most Importance aspect is education about all plastics detroying our oceans . Reduction and when possible elimination is the goal .
    Please read this as there are many considerations that must be understood;