Testifying on Plastic Straws in DC

Co-Owner Dan Simons and Campaign Manager for Our Last Straw Julie Sharkey, testified at a DC hearing on plastic straws and stirrers on Friday, November 9th before the DC Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

The Committee invited the public to testify and provide written testimony on two pending amendments, including one on plastic straws and stirrers. As introduced, this bill prohibits the sale, use, or provision of non-compostable straws and stirring implements by food service entities, beginning January 1, 2019. The entire hearing was recorded and can be watched online.

Simons discussed plastic straws from a business perspective and explained that no restaurant or bar can really claim to need to provide plastic straws in order to succeed or thrive. There are many viable alternatives, with the best option being no straw at all whenever possible. Sharkey, who also works in the marketing department at Farmers Restaurant Group, discussed the efforts of the Our Last Straw campaign, which is to raise awareness and build a coalition of restaurants, cafes, bars, and others in the hospitality industry to eliminate plastic straws.

Sharkey’s testimony included mention of our recent partnership with the DC Office of Energy & Environment. Director Tommy Wells, known as the father of the plastic bag bill, also provided testimony and discussed joint efforts with Our Last Straw and others to bring awareness and compliance to a plastic straw free DC by January 1.

Other testimonies were given by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, DC Doesn’t Suck, as well as individuals, including an 11-year-old boy who captivated the council and the audience. He spoke about his fears of what the beach will be like when he is in his 40s, because research has indicated plastics will outweigh fish by 2050.

It is not clear if the two amendments will pass, but there is clear momentum to get plastic drinking straws out of the DC trash stream by preventing their distribution and use in the first place. Of course, the amendment allows for guests that may need a plastic straw, for health or disability reasons, and also requires establishments to keep a small selection of plastic straws on hand.

For a company majority owned by farmers, we remain committed to protecting the land and waterways we all call home. Right here in our home, the District of Columbia.