With Earth Day on the horizon, Waste Wise team members Mary Forbes and Oliver Berger have been hard at work trying to rid the Cariboo of a plastic menace terrorizing the streets.
The target: plastic straws.
A straw campaign lead by Berger, “stop sucking” has been in motion for about six months, and in the lead up to Earth Day, taking place April 22, Forbes thought she would try to build on Berger’s momentum.
“I thought, let’s go to the source and ask these restaurants to go strawless for Earth Day, just to see,” said Forbes.
“Let’s see if we can actually do high level good for Earth Day, instead of like ‘let’s pick up some garbage’ — which is like putting a band-aide on the problem — the problem is the garbage not that people litter.”
One of the restaurants participating will be A&W, who is already testing paper straws at locations outside of Williams Lake.
“I want to be involved because we want to be known for our environmental policies,” said Annaliza David, store manager.
Her corporate office sent her paper straws for the occasion.
“We’re happy to be part of it because our only major waste is straws and the condiment packages, our plates and cutlery are disposable or renewable,” she said.
“If we are not using the straws than we are contributing. It’s a big help.”
Other restaurants, where straws are on-demand only, or who have stopped using straws altogether, include Joey’s Restaurant, the Gecko Tree, New World Cafe, the Fox’s Den, and the Bean Counter, and Forbes is hoping to get more involved – particularly fast food restaurants with to go cups.
“The problem is not people, the solution is people,” said Forbes. “When people are already overburdened they have to cut something and they are going to cut garbages, so if we can take it out at the source then it is solved and we are not leaving the burden on the consumer.”
She’s also passing knowledge of recycling off to students. As part of a day trip which included the landfill, share shed, Potato House and A&W to celebrate their paper straws, Nesika French Immersion students learned a number of tips, from paper straws, to composting and recycling clothes.
“I never knew there was such thing as paper straws,” said Grade 3 student Thomas Luscombe. “Now there is so everyone should use them.”
“I think it is great they have paper straws, because it will help our community,” said Grade 4 student Andrea Huxley. “Mary Forbes taught us that you can compost and we saw in the garbage lots of stuff you can recycle.”
“I learned that garbage is bad for the community and recycling is good,” said Grade 3 student Teara Wolstenholme. “I’m happy because you can recycle because we don’t want garbage in our community.”
“I learned that if we don’t make a big mess, it wouldn’t be so big,” said kindergarten student Victor Morehouse. “You will feel really good about paper straws.”