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6/4/2018 10:27:00 AM
THE LAST STRAW: Environmental concerns get restaurants to cut down on plastic

Maureen Langley, Herald-Times

Several Bloomington bars and restaurants are no longer offering plastic straws to customers. They do, however, still have straws for beverages — but made of hay or paper.

“I just couldn’t order another huge thing of straws, knowing sea turtles would have it in their esophagus,” Atlas Ballroom manager Colleen Sutton said.

The downtown bar used to have single-use plastic cups and straws for water.

Atlas Ballroom has since switched to compostable corn-based cups. Sutton said she just ordered hay straws, which cost 3.5 cents per straw, and the bar has been working through the last of the plastic ones, which cost 1 cent per straw.

Last week, the European Union proposed new laws to ban single-use plastic products, and U.S. cities such as Seattle; Miami Beach, Fla.; and Malibu, Calif.; have banned plastic straws.

Bloomington hasn’t banned plastic straws, but several local bars and restaurants such as Atlas have already made the switch.

Lennie’s, the only certified green restaurant in town, switched from plastic to paper straws at the end of April. According to manager Matt Houghton, paper straws cost the restaurant about six times as much as plastic straws. The restaurant also switched its to-go packaging to a box that is recyclable.

So far, he said, customers haven’t noticed much change. Houghton said Lennie’s previously had an internal policy of giving out straws only upon request, but now the policy is more formal.

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