About six months ago, Kapow stopped automatically giving plastic straws to customers unless they specifically request one.
Now, they’re getting rid of plastic straws and stirrers altogether and hoping to replace them with a sustainable alternative for when a customer wants a straw to use.
“It’s important that what we do here has an effect right down the street and we take action to curb that,” Dugan said.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center sees the effects of overuse of straws firsthand. A one-year-old hawksbill turtle named Sherman came into the center from Vero Beach a few weeks ago. Since then, he’s been passing small pieces of plastic. Dr. Charles Manire said that’s commonplace among the small turtles the center has rescued over the last three years.
“I think there’s only been one in about 100 that did not have plastic,” Dr. Manire said.
Dr. Manire thinks Sherman could have blockage in his intestine from that plastic, which can’t be operated on because the turtle is too small.
“Turtles mistake this for food and eat it and sometimes they can pass it, but oftentimes it may block their gut and cause them to die,” he said.
Kapow is part of the Subculture group of restaurants, which Dugan estimates use 4 million straws a year in total. They’re all taking steps toward being straw free.