In 2017, we at MeetGreen made the commitment to give up single-use plastic straws both personally and professionally with as many events as possible within our influence. Having long been advocates of avoiding single-use plastics at our events, we joined the straw movement. We realize that straws are the tip of the iceberg with the plastics issue, but feel any reduction is a good change and will bring awareness to a larger community.
We purchased metal straw kits with cleaning brushes and napkins in a small bag (made from recycled pop bottles) which can hang on your belt or be stored in your bag. The straws had a bend in them to assist with disabled persons. We not only used them ourselves, but also gave them to clients and colleagues. Meanwhile, on the events level, we pushed even harder for no straws at any events citing increased peer pressure.
While we consider ourselves “change agents” with the ability to easily incorporate sustainability into every area of our lives, we were surprised to find this one small change impacted us more than we had first considered. We are also proud of being transparent in our efforts and the ability to poke fun at ourselves, so here are some of the comments from our Straw Poll…
“I had a client concerned about availability for those who may require straws to consume beverages for medical/accessibility reasons. Therefore we are going with “by request” instead of banned.”
“Using the same straw-free lid at IMEX America 2018 for both hot and cold (large and small) drinks was very cool. It was nice to order just one compostable lid for the entire show. This simplified procurement and education in terms of what goes where in the waste bins.”
“I used a red and white striped paper straw that was a lot of fun and sturdy!”
“It feels good to use reusable straws instead of plastic! I use my reusable Starbucks cups on the go all the time and they come with a reusable straw. On a recent road trip, I had my reusable cup with the green straw and the barista had candy cane reusable straws for a buck! I bought one because it’s fun and I will use it over and over again!”
“Metal straws keep each sip cooler.”
“Metal straws save money, especially if you have a large family. Everyone has their own color.”
“Good idea to have the metal straw come with a cleaner!”
“Unless it’s already in my reusable cup I don’t use my travel reusable straw because I forget about it. The metal feels weird to me and paper straws are generally weak and flimsy”.
“You drink more with a straw than without, which is only bad if you don’t want to get drunk on margaritas. Or sangria. Or whatever.”
“It’s hard to remember to take it with you.”
“You have to clean the reusable straws.”
“Finding a linty re-usable (but now unusable) straw in the bottom of your bag. Yuck.”
“I received a paper straw in a cup with a lid that immediately cut through the paper straw and sprang a nasty leak. The restaurant was trying, but not quite there!”
“If you find yourself with spinach in your teeth, you’ll have to find another tool. A re-usable straw won’t help!”
So there you have it, in addition to all of the environmental considerations and data (we chose not to bore you with), our unofficial straw poll shows the good still outweighs the bad and the ugly. Change is often difficult, even for something as simple as a straw in a beverage. It serves as a reminder that sustainable events are not accomplished in a day and we can support each other and laugh along the way as we make change in our lives, our organizations and our world!