Some Madison restaurants nearly straw-free for almost a year

MADISON (WKOW) — The plastic straw has become more and more unpopular among environmentally-conscious consumers leading a handful of Madison businesses to take steps like Eldorado Grill.

For a little more than a year, Assistant General Manager Holly Schwichtenberg said plastic straws have been a rare sight.

"Our former general manager Callie decided to be more environmentally friendly and she made the decision to go to straws upon request," she said.

That means drinks without straws have been the default, but customers can ask for a plastic straw if they want. Schwichtenberg said it was an easy shift to cut down on waste without affecting customer experience.

"Most people don’t notice," she said.

Since the policy has been in place, Schwichtenberg said they’ve cut down from using about 3,000 straws a month to about 250.

"The customers who do notice it are very thankful because they know about the environmental impact," she said.

As for the cost change, she said its negligible for the restaurant as straws represent a small part of the budget.

Other Madison restaurants with similar policies include Vintage Brewing, Green Owl and Field Table, and according to recent UW graduate, Grace Voegeli, it’s something customers notice.

"I’m definitely more likely to frequent places that make very public steps towards sustainability," she said.

Voegeli said she has been concerned about her dependence on plastic, and so she said she appreciates when businesses take steps to cut back, whether that’s a local or a national chain.

Most recently, Starbucks, has taken another look at the way the company uses plastic straws announcing Monday, it hopes to be plastic straw-free by 2020. 

"With Starbucks it definitely makes me look more favorably on a company that I sort of swing back and forth on," Voegeli said.

The business is opting for recyclable plastic lids and compostable paper straws for its colder beverages. 

Still as more and more people move away from the plastic straw, Schwichtenberg said, she welcomes any business to follow Eldorado’s lead.

"I’m glad that people care and want to make the difference," she said.

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