Take the Pledge to Be Straw Free

Commit to asking for your drinks “straw-less” when eating out or on the go. Keep reusable straws at home to offer house guests who prefer or need to use a straw. Take the pledge and Be Straw Free!

Each One, Reach One Approach

This is one simple way we can all work together to reduce the use of disposable straws in our communities:

Each person invites (at least) one restaurant to consider offering straws to customers instead of serving a straw with each drink automatically. That’s it—very simple, very easy, and very effective!

We have heard from some restaurant owners that they are concerned about changing the way they provide service because they are not sure these changes will be welcomed by their patrons, and they say they are much more likely to implement changes if they hear from customers that it’s important to them that restaurants use fewer disposable straws. So, let’s tell them! 

How to Ask

Let’s tell restaurant owners and managers that we prefer to be offered a straw instead of being served a drink with a straw already in it! Don’t know how to bring it up? Here is a suggestion of how to do this in three simple steps:

1) Order your drinks with “no straw, please.”

2) While you are eating at the restaurant, notice how drinks are being served to tables around you. Are they being served with straws already in them? Or are straws being offered when drinks are brought to the table?

3a) If you notice that drinks are being served with straws already in them, you can ask to speak to the owner/manager. You can say something along the lines of: “Hi, I noticed that each drink comes with a straw already in it. I’m wondering if you would consider having your servers bring the drinks to the table and then offer the customer a straw?” 

3b) If you see that the restaurant is already giving patrons the option of choosing whether or not to use a straw, that’s great! You can still ask to speak to the owner/manager and say something like: “Hi, I noticed that your servers bring the drinks to the table, then offer straws to the customers. That’s great! Thank you for providing customers an option first.”

Each restaurant that participates is another restaurant saving thousands of throw-away straws per year, so reaching even ONE restaurant is a way of helping cut back on thousands of straws per year—good job!

Adopt an Offer First policy, a best practice of the National Restaurant Association, by asking customers if they would like a straw with their drink, rather than providing one by default.

Share your story with other businesses: Take the Be Straw Free campaign to your local business chamber, restaurant association, trade magazine, or to your neighborhood shops, and create a Straw-Free Zone in your community.

Proclaim your community straw-free by adopting an Offer First policy. 

See the Be Straw Free proclamation from Burlington, Vermont 

Read the proclamation from Colorado’s governor to declare a statewide Straw Free Day

Get to Know the Founder of Be Straw Free

Milo Cress, who was nine when he started this project in February 2011, is the founder, codirector, and primary spokesperson of the Be Straw Free project. He has pursued his interests in the environment and conservation from a very young age. 

At age eight, Milo noticed that whenever he ordered a drink in a restaurant, it would come with a straw in it. This seemed like a huge waste because he did not usually need a straw. He wondered how many straws were used in the US every day, and when he could not find any information on that, he decided to research it himself. He contacted US straw manufacturers whose estimates he collected indicated that, between all the straws handed out at restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, convenience stores, schools, workplace cafeterias, on the sides of juice and milk boxes, etc., the US uses about 500 million straws per day. Straws are small, but this adds up to a lot of unnecessary plastic waste!

This is when he decided to launch his project, Be Straw Free, to reduce our use of plastic straws. He encourages restaurants to offer straws instead of serving one with every drink automatically, and urges consumers to order their drinks without a straw whenever they don’t want or need to use one. His project gained press attention and quickly became a forerunner in the global discussion about reducing plastic waste. He has been invited to speak at conferences, organizations, and schools, and has met political and community leaders across the US and around the world. At nine years old, he even testified before the Vermont House Legislature regarding his project and his work reducing plastic waste.

Today, Milo still runs Be Straw Free in addition to his other interests, and is currently pursuing his passions for computer programming and mathematics. Milo develops machine learning algorithms and advocates for the responsible implementation of artificial intelligence technologies.