Ask Ann: What Happened to Plastic Straws at Milwaukee Bars?

Plastic straws are going buh-bye.

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Q: Recently a restaurant bartender handed me a cocktail that didn’t come, as it normally does, with a plastic straw. I asked for one and the tender gave me a paper one she said was compostable. Is this a new trend?

A: Lots of restaurants are joining the “no plastic straw” bandwagon, which gained steam after a 2015 video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuffed in its nose went viral. Straws, most of which are too light to be recyclable, are part of the multitude of plastic waste that ends up in oceans, prompting grassroots initiatives to encourage restaurants, bars, hotels and the like to replace plastic with an environmentally friendly paper version. Local dining spots are ditching plastic, including Goodkind, Balzac, The National, LuLu Cafe & Bar, DanDan, Honeypie and Palomino.

Restaurateur Valeri Lucks, who is opening SmallPie (little sister to Honeypie) in Bay View this summer, says ditching plastic straws was “such an easy fix. And it’s not a hard conversation to have with customers,” who can ask for a biodegradable, corn-based straw.

Single-use plastic straws may soon be a thing of the past. A good substitute for straw lovers might be to carry their own reusable one. Weird? Just think about the birds and fishes.

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“Ask Ann” appears in the July 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.