Some Portland bars and restaurants banding together to stop using plastic straws

Plastic Straws are the latest target for those who want a cleaner world. (KATU Photo)

A movement is afoot in Portland to ban the use of plastic straws.

Right now it's just voluntary, with 11 restaurants signed on with the "DitchTheStrawPDX" campaign, created by the Portland chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. However, many are hopeful for laws that would ban plastic straws, much like laws that banned plastic bags in Portland.

"The environment is something I've always cared passionately about," said Brent Richford, owner of Taqueria Nueve in Northeast Portland. "I was just kind of brought up that way."

Richford had been looking to get rid of plastic straws on his own, but joined the campaign after seeing how his ideals matched up with the larger goal.

"I'm a surfer, or a I used to be before I owned a restaurant," said Richford. "I was surfing in Nicaragua and I saw a dead animal on the beach as I was walking to a surf spot and it looked like it had choked on a straw."

According to the Surfrider Foundation's Portland chapter, plastic straws are among the most common items found at group cleanups on the Oregon coast and in Portland.

"I've been bartending on and off now for about 12 years," said Charles Dorst, bar manager at St. Jack in Northwest Portland. "Just seeing night to night the amount of straws we were throwing away is incredible."

St. Jack is one of the bars that's ditched plastic straws. Unlike Richford, who will give customers paper or cardboard straws if they want one, Dorst says St. Jack customers will get a metal straw. However, both men say customers rarely ask for a straw when the "DitchTheStrawPDX" campaign is explained to them.

"Somebody left us a handwritten note saying how much they love this place anyway, but now they love it even more," said Richford, after making the switch.

"The mayor came in and when we told him about it he literally stood up out of his chair and applauded us, which is a great thing," said Dorst.

To learn more about the campaign, and see what restaurants and bars are participating, just visit the Portland chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

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