Go Green: The Be Straw Free Campaign

It's a new program at Rochester's Distillery Restaurants to help the environment one straw at a time in this week's Go Green Report.

All four of The Distillery locations have joined a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of plastic they send to the landfill. Beginning on Father's Day, the restaurants began giving customers a choice when it came to drinking their beverage. "It's simply, instead of placing the straw in the drink automatically, we ask the guest if they would like a straw," said Randy Slifer, Director of Operations for The Distillery.

The ask first policy is part of the "Be Straw Free Campaign" which was started two years ago by a young boy in Vermont.  It has spread to restaurants across the nation.  The Distillery is the first to implement the program locally.  "Our staff is very excited about it," said Slifer.  "The feedback has been fantastic."

The small step has the potential for big results.  It's estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used everyday in the U.S.  Locally, at the four Distillery locations about 30,000 straws are used every week.  "Some people just prefer not to use a straw, so why waste that, why put that in the landfill?" questioned Slifer.  "There's really no such thing as throwing something away.  It has to go somewhere."

The "Be Straw Free Campaign" joins other green practices at The Distillery.  The restaurant saves energy with LED lights and a sensor in the exhaust system to reduce fan speed during non-peak hours.  Slifer said they're also looking at new motors to make their food and beverage coolers more efficient.  "Our goal and our focus is obviously to leave less of a carbon imprint in the environment, reduce the landfill waste," he said.

The National Restaurant Association has endorsed the "Be Straw Free Campaign" as a restaurant best practice.  Slifer hopes other local establishments will join the cause.  "It's good for the community, it's good for the neighborhood, it's good for Rochester, we believe it's good for the planet," he said.

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