This year, National Skip the Straw Day lands on February 28th, and is a reminder of how important it is to move away from using single-use, disposable plastics in our everyday lives. The National Park Service estimates that Americans use 500 million straws daily, which means that if everyone observed Skip the Straw Day, that would be 500 million fewer straws getting tossed today. That is a lot of straws, roughly enough to fill 127 school buses daily and circle the Earth’s circumference 2.5 times.
With the plastic straw bans proliferated at bars, restaurants, and coffee shops nationwide, skipping the straw is an accessible entry point to a larger, more meaningful conversation about conscientious consumption. Which leads us to sustainable cocktails, the next wave of mixed drinks that could help save the planet from added waste. Brendan Bartley, bar director for The 18th Room, a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, suggests the concept of sustainable cocktails itself is comprised of many ingredients, including but not limited to: being made in-house; being made of organic, locally-produced products; and aiming for a zero—or even negative—sum of any “detrimental effect on our surroundings and the environment.
“Pulp, skins, seeds, pits, leaves, stems, and roots are all parts of ingredients that may normally find themselves in the landfill but instead could (very creatively and deliciously and nutritiously) end up instead in someone’s cocktail, entree, or dessert,” Bartley says. He suggests that before anything that is still fresh and edible is thrown away, the question “can this be used for something?” should be asked. “No drink or food item can go on our menu unless we have a solution to use all parts of an ingredient. This just means all the staff have to do research on alternative ways to use products and ingredients”, Bartley says. This is certainly the case for the Uncle Buck cocktail at The 18th Room. This prohibition style cocktail is made with Tequila, popcorn orgeat, fresh lemon, and house-made ginger chamomile soda. The popcorn is used in myriad methods within the cocktail, it is used off to make the orgeat is also infused in the Tequila, and it is then dehydrated and used as a garnish in the cocktail.
Sticking with the Zero Waste commitment, The 18th Room also utilizes straws which are made from gluten-free pasta by Pasta Life. While many consider paper straws the “better” more sustainable option, paper straws have harmful environmental impacts as well and let’s be honest, paper straws just don’t hold up in a beverage for a long period of time.
To solve this problem, Pasta Life Co-Founders, Anthony Barresi & Dave Sedacca, have created a durable, long-lasting pasta straw to put an end to plastic straw pollution and provide thirsty consumers with a sustainable drinking straw that doesn’t suck (sorry paper!). The eco-friendly Pasta Life straws are made from all-natural plant-based ingredients. In less than 90 days, they are designed to be 100% biodegradable in a non-commercial compostable facility, aka your backyard composting bin. That’s 2x faster than paper straws, and here’s the best part – they last 3x longer than your standard paper straw.
Their pasta straws are certified gluten-free, come in 7 fun colors, and are sold in bulk quantities for cost efficiencies. Can you eat them? Damn right you can! Pasta Life straws are vegan-friendly and 100% turtle approved!
“Pasta brings people together,” says Co-Founder, Anthony Barresi. “Our vision is to bring that mindset to the table and use pasta straws as a way to partner with like-minded people to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental issues.”
These edible straws may be a pathway to awareness and education, but at the crux of it all is a much-needed shift to fuel these innovations in our drinking habits toward more behavioral change and environmental passion. There’s no magic fix, but the prospect of what new alternative is being cooked up next is promising. Regardless, many bars like The 18th Room agree that more and more of their customers like to be educated about what they are consuming and how their choices affect the environment.
Skipping the straw this February 28th is an easy way that you can prevent increased ocean pollution. We are all responsible for the ever-growing tide of pollution in our oceans. It will take all of us working together, day in and day out, to stop it.
The 18th Room Details:
134 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011; the18throom.com; @the18throom
PastaLife Straw Details:
www.pasta.life/products/buy. Use 4THETURTLES to get 15% off your first order.
Our Best Stories Delivered Daily