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Posted on: March 4, 2019

March is Skip the Straw month in Orange County

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The Orange County Board of Commissioners and the governing boards for the Towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough have designated March as Skip the Straw month. Businesses and residents are urged to skip or eliminate plastic drinking straws.

According to Solid Waste Planner, Blair Pollock, Orange County’s “Skip the Straw’ campaign will have three key components:

Enrolling local businesses that serve beverages to participate by either offering straws only on request, converting to paper or compostable straws or eliminating straws altogether. As of the end of February, more than two dozen local businesses had signed the pledge, and more will be added throughout the month.

Urging local residents to take the pledge to skip the straw when dining out. The pledge is available online at www.orangecountync.gov/skipthestraw. The pledges will be counted and added to national totals from other communities conducting similar campaigns. Sign-up for those without access to the internet will be available at the County’s main library at 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough and the Chapel Hill Library at 100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill.

Showings of the documentary ‘Straws’ along with speakers, local environmental groups and receptions will be held March 25 at the Varsity Theater in Chapel Hill and March 26 at the Orange County main library in Hillsborough. Both showings are at 7 p.m. and pre-registration is highly recommended at www.orangecountync.gov/skipthestraw. Speakers will include “Straws” producer/director Linda Booker, who will appear at both showings. Bonnie Monteleone, founding director of the Wilmington-based Plastic Ocean Project, will speak at The Varsity. Bryant Holsenbeck, Durham-based garbage artist and author of “The Last Straw," her new book about a year of living without single use plastics, will speak at the showing in Hillsborough.

It is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are consumed daily in the United States alone. Many of those end up as litter or in bodies of water potentially doing harm to marine wildlife. Due to their shape, straws are rarely recyclable, are usually made from petroleum and have a very short use life.

A national campaign to reduce unnecessary straw use began about four years ago and has spread across the country. Participating restaurants and bars throughout the have found the campaigns well accepted by their customers.

“We have decided to “Skip the Straw’ at all five of our restaurants and are finding that customers are satisfied while we’re saving money and reducing the potential for plastic pollution," said Greg Overbeck, head of the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group.