Bay Area restaurants move toward eco-friendly status


Emery Reddy

Plastic cups and straws found on the beach demonstrate the urgency for environmental reform.

Julia Rhodie, Staff Writer

You are at the coffee shop you visit every morning as an essential step in your routine.

You order a decaf iced mocha, wait by the pick-up counter, and receive your coffee when you realize something is missing.

Where is your straw?

Restaurants throughout the Bay Area are eliminating the use of plastic straws due to a recently passed legislation in San Francisco. During the month of July, the Land Use and Transportation Committee authorized the ban on selling, using, and distributing plastic straws and other related food accessories.

Some have also taken notice of additional efforts to consider the environment. Alyssa Nguyen, the president of Carlmont’s Green Team, said, “We have seen restaurants around the area converting to tri-bin systems. There have also been changes to recyclable and compostable take-out boxes and utensils.”

Although this change in restaurants may be due to legal obligations, restaurant workers still find it important that they are contributing to preserving the planet.

Barry Piotrkowski is a server at Black Bear Diner and has been in the restaurant business for over 10 years. “It is important that our restaurant makes efforts towards helping the environment to help preserve for future generations and to keep from destroying animal habitats with plastic and trash,” he said. 

This proactive approach to combat pollution is being repeated throughout a variety of American industries. According to National Geographic, major corporations such as Starbucks, Bon Appetit Management Company, Marriott hotels, and American Airlines have made public announcements that they will wane off of plastic straws in the coming years.

Restaurant customers have also seemed to embrace this break of tradition.

“The reactions from guests have been mostly positive,” Pitrkowski said. “We have been seeing more people bringing their own straws or using no straw. There have been some ecosystem-conscious guests complimenting us on our efforts.”

Despite the changes that Bay Area cities are undergoing, many question the impact that these efforts will actually have on the environment.

According to Michal Nozik, the head of Carlmont’s science department, “Banning plastic straws is sort of like a baby step. If every possible step is taken to improve the environment, it will create a big impact. However, banning plastic straws alone is not enough. If we combine all of our efforts, we will have a better chance of preserving our environment.”