Vancouver Island University student pub server Jesse Bixby, left, and Janelle Wilson, pub manager, with a drink at the university’s pub on Tuesday. The pub no longer includes a straw with drink orders. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

Pair of pubs in Nanaimo scrap straws

VIU Students’ Union Pub, Dinghy Dock Pub no longer put straws in drinks

Two Nanaimo establishments have decided to go strawless.

Vancouver Island University Students’ Union Pub and the Dinghy Dock Pub are no longer serving plastic straws to customers.

Janelle Wilson, pub coordinator, Vancouver Island University Students’ Union, said the pub stopped providing plastic straws with drink orders in early November, adding that the reaction from customers has been positive.

“Nobody has said anything negative about it,” she said. “If anything, we’ve had people commenting on it saying ‘I am really sorry, but I need a straw, but I do care about the environment.’”

The student pub was going through an average of 5,000 plastic straws a month and almost every drink on their menu came with a straw, according to Wilson, who said the pub has seen a significant reduction in the amount of garbage it throws out since going strawless.

“Thursdays are usually a busier day and evening for us and the start of the semester we had our garbage bins pretty much overflowing every Thursday,” she said. “Now our garbage bins are half full.”

Wilson said the pub will provide plastic straws to customers who specifically request them and that it plans to order biodegradable straws in the future for those who request a straw. She said while straws had also been used to help servers and customers differentiate between drinks that were doubles and singles, there are other options.

“It’s easily avoidable by using garnish like lemons and limes,” Wilson said.

The move to go strawless comes as communities and restaurants throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Australia move towards banning plastic straws, which can often end up in rivers, lakes and oceans. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States and they are also one of the most commonly found items during beach cleanups.

Earlier this month, the Dinghy Dock Pub announced on Facebook that it would no longer provide plastic straws to customers unless specifically requested.

Bryanna Pearson, manager with the Dinghy Dock Pub, said the establishment was going through about 200 straws per day and was heavily influenced by the student pub’s decision. She said plastic straws are a luxury that most people can do without.

“Straws just seem like something everyone needs, but it really isn’t a need,” Pearson said. “It’s a luxury and it is not something that needs to be had by everybody.”

So far feedback has been mostly positive from customers, according to Pearson, who said the only complaint came from someone with concerns about teeth sensitivity.

“We’ve received so much support. It has been amazing. People have been thrilled about it. I think everybody in Nanaimo and on the West Coast are very conscious about recycling and the small changes we can make to better our planet,” she said.

Pearson said she’s well aware of the negative impact plastic straws can have on the environment. She said she hopes the announcement will spur other restaurants in the community to stop serving plastic straws as well.

“Every little bit counts,” she said.

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