Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Strawless Summer returns and wants Charleston to stop sucking for good

The campaign hopes to get over 200 restaurants to take the strawless pledge

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 8:24 AM

click to enlarge Strawless Summer begins Memorial Day - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Strawless Summer begins Memorial Day
Using straws sucks.

"In Charleston alone, we use more than 630-thousand straws per day!" says Kate Dittloff, Rise Above Plastics Coordinator for Charleston Surfrider. "What people don’t realize is that every single use plastic straw ever created is somewhere on this planet in some way, shape or form because straws can’t be recycled."
Those discarded straws become a pollution nightmare and in the Lowcountry, it's our sea life that's impacted the most — a 2015 video went viral showing a scientist struggling to remove a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose.

In order to raise awareness for this harmful habit, last year Dittloff, Surfrider Charleston, The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, Charleston Bartender's Guild, 5 Gyres Institute, and Lonely Whale invited area bars and restaurants to go strawless. And after a successful first year run, the campaign is back with even bigger goals.

The Charleston Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Charleston Chapter of the US Bartender’s Guild has launched Strawless Summer round two.

"This year we are making a few changes — we have a ton more resources for restaurants in a toolkit we've created," says Ditloff. That includes collateral to educate restaurant customers when they discover a restaurant has nixed straws.
"Additionally we are hoping to double the number of restaurants in this year's campaign, and we have a consumer component. We are urging residents from the Lowcountry to pledge to Skip the Straw this summer — just say no to single use plastic straws — and bring your own reusable straw when out getting drinks," she adds.

That's easier said than done, but Dittloff is hoping that Healthy Human, a Charleston based brand can help. Healthy Human is selling reusable straw packs with part of the proceeds going to our chapter, and will encourage more consumers to buy in. 

The campaign kicks off on Memorial Day and will run through Labor Day and right now Strawless Summer is recruiting restaurants to sign up. "Last year we had a ton from downtown, and we are hoping that those in surrounding communities like James Island and Mt. Pleasant step up and take the pledge. Last year we had approximately 115 take the pledge — this year we want to double that number."

But even if 230 area restaurants make the pledge, will it really make a difference? Dittloff things so.

"Many of the restaurants who took part continue to only provide straws upon request, and many others have eliminated single-use plastic straws on site and instead offer paper straws," she says. "We were a bit disappointed though about the lack of beach-front restaurants who signed up. Those are some of the most important to take the pledge because we find a ton of straws outside these establishments which then end up in the environment and the ocean. We hope those restaurants on IOP, Folly, and Sullivan's take note about what a huge difference their participation can make in reducing the amount of plastics getting into the environment."

Restaurants interested in participating can sign up here. Citizens can take the Strawless Summer pledge by clicking here.

And if you'd like to purchase a stainless steel straw, you can buy one from Healthy Human which will donate 50 percent of the purchase price and 15 percent of every website purchase to the Charleston Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Visit and use the code “SURFRIDER” to receive the discount.

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