The following article is from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Newsletter for July-August 2018. Teacher Derek Pappaceno of Alton and his STEM students are working to raise awareness of plastic straws and the issues they cause.
The push for a straw-free New Hampshire:
More than 7% of the 1.5 million tons of debris found annually on beaches in the United States is made up of straws and stirrers. Over 2,300 straws were collected in New Hampshire beach cleanups in 2017 alone. National campaigns have sprung up over the last couple of years to educate people about this harmful pollution and about simple alternatives.
Thanks to local campaigns by various restaurants, organizations and community members, plastic straw use in New Hampshire is on the decline.
For example, the Blue Ocean Society partnered with the Surfrider Foundation (New Hampshire Chapter) and Sustainable Seacoast for a “Skip the Straw” campaign, which pairs volunteers with restaurants to encourage them to switch to greener straw options. The organization has also teamed up with the “Straw-Free in the 603” campaign, spearheaded by a middle school STEM teacher and his students in Alton. Teacher Derek Pappaceno has started a Twitter hashtag to rally support online: #StrawFreeinthe603.
NHDES is also doing its part to recognize these initiatives through the Green Hospitality program. When evaluating businesses for recognition, the program considers the businesses’ straw policy as part of its criteria. The program also maintains a Green Hospitality map online that shows the locations of all recognized businesses, allowing consumers to make more environmentally conscious dining and lodging choices.
900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, which carries the Green Hospitality distinction at its Epping and Manchester locations, started a straw-by-request policy at its Portsmouth location, which opened in May. If customers ask for a straw, they will be given corn straws, which can go in the restaurant’s compost. They also offer wooden stirrers at the bar. Owner Priscilla Lane-Rondeau says she has now extended a similar policy to her other locations.
Throwback Brewery in North Hampton is a Green Hospitality business that transitioned to compostable paper straws over a year ago. “Given our commitment to sustainability and being kind to the earth, it was a no-brainer to transition over,” said Co-Founder and President Nicole Carrier. “In fact, I’m not quite sure why we ever had plastic straws in the first place.”
For more information on the Green Hospitality program, please visit: https://www.des.nh.gov/ organization/commissioner/p2au/pps/ppgh/ index.htm.
For more details on “#Straw Free in the 603”, follow the hashtag on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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