Nationally, plastic straws are being phased out because of their environmental impact. Some cities have even banned them. Locally, the anti-straw movement is also catching on here in the Northwoods.
Sandy Buss at Briar House in Rhinelander says they’ve been trying to reduce their use of plastic straws by offering the choice of paper straws, but they’ve gotten mixed reactions from customers.
"Some of them do not like them at all and will not be using them," says Buss. "Then some of our customers are just thrilled that we're going with this option."
Buss says some of the drawbacks to the paper straw include texture and durability, but that they will continue to carry both kinds of straws at Briar House. Buss hopes that the paper straws will become more popular over time.
CT’s Deli in Rhinelander announced its decision to switch to compostable straws last week, made of “corn plastic.”
Co-owner Rhonda Jicinsky says CT’s Deli has always been committed to being eco-friendly and thinks the new corn straws are an improvement over paper straws.
"We hope everyone will do their part," says Jicinsky. "If everyone does a little bit, it can add up to a lot."
CT’s Deli says eco-friendly products like these do incur higher costs, but they felt it was worth it. They are now only giving out straws if requested.
NPR reports Americans tossed out more than 33 million tons of plastic in 2014 alone, the majority of which was not recycled and that straws and stirrers make up more than 7 percent of plastic products found in the environment.
Companies are getting creative with what kind of materials to make alternate straws out of, like using edible pasta. Others are making reusable straws out of silicone, glass, and metal.