No Straws, Please!

Initiative for Restaurant Companies in the Hotel area in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo to join the #Anti-Popote/#NoStraw Campaign


The excessive use of straws has generated serious consequences in the environment, and the problem with this, is its immediate disposal. Millions of straws are used per day, and cannot be recycled and take decades to degrade, which makes it one of the main pollutants of the environment, and in many cases its use is unjustified.

Some restaurant companies internationally and nationally as well as locals have joined the campaigns to reduce the use of straws.

In Mexico, there are no official numbers on how many straws are disposed of, but there are estimates of how much plastic ends up in landfills and open pit dumps in the country. According to a report by the National Association of Plastic Industries (Anipac), about 12% of the waste in Mexico is plastic. This is equivalent to approximately 10,350 tons per day of the 86,343 of the total garbage we produce, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

Plastics can degrade with the help of bacteria and other organisms, such as a type of worm used by Stanford University for its waste management experiments. But if they are not subjected to these processes it can take up to hundreds of years to disintegrate. “A straw could take at least 20 years to disintegrate,” says Verne Sergio Palacios, a researcher at the Institute of Geology at UNAM.

While that happens, plastic waste occupy 2.5 more space than their weight in garbage dumps and sanitary landfills because of their durable material and volume, according to Anipac’s report, “which means that they saturate the landfills and we have to do more efforts”, explains Palacios, of the UNAM. “These places are not really sanitary either, because they emit pollutants and gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.”

Campaigns to reduce the use of straw are not new.

Harry Stevens invented the straw a little more than 100 years ago; He realized that in baseball games people lost part of the game by drinking from the glass, so he ordered plastic straws so people would not miss it.

Clearly over these 100 years the production of straws has gone out of control: There are more than 500,000,000 straws produced each day, and most importantly is that 95% of these are not recycled and one person uses about 30, 000.

In 2011, nine-year-old Milo Cress started in the US the “Be Straw Free” project and persuaded the National Restaurant Association of that country to eliminate the practice of serving straws in drinks when they are served to customers.

In September of 2015, the movement arrived in Mexico, it took about two years but there are many campaigns now to raise awareness through social networks, but mainly to ask: are they really necessary for everyday life?

We share some data related to this plastic artefact:

  • By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
  • A straw degrades in about 100 years.
  • 30% of animal deaths in the oceans are related to plastic.

The straw and the turtle

In August 2015, a marine biology student at Texas A & M University posted a video showing a turtle with a piece of plastic (which she identifies as a straw) stuck in one of her nostrils. The original video (we warn you it’s hard to see) has over 7 million views on YouTube.

“That video unleashed the awareness of the use of the straw,” says Verne Carlos Camacho, co-founder of EcoShell, a company that produces disposable biodegradable products. “We had looked at the problem for eight years, but in March (2016) we launched our campaign to minimize its use.”

More are joining this campaign.

Almost always, every time a drink is ordered in a restaurant, the waiters will give a new straw, without being asked. At least 36 restaurants and bars in Nuevo Leon and Mexico City, according to a count on Facebook and Twitter, have joined an initiative to eliminate this practice in an attempt to reduce their waste. Since January this year, they have used the hashtag #Antipopotes in their accounts on the social networks to announce that they will not serve this utensil in their establishments. Los Danzantes, Wings Army, Hijos del Maiz and Asian Bay are some restaurants that adopted this policy.

“We still have straws in our restaurants, but we do not offer them with drinks,” says Verne Monica Martinez, marketing director of Grupo Pangea, a company that operates seven restaurants in Nuevo León, such as La Cantina, La Félix and Vasto the Italian restaurant in San Pedro Garza Garcia. “If they ask us, we gladly give them to them, but there are very few who do or that are disturbed because we do not serve them. Overall we have received positive comments. ”

Here are some examples of restaurants at the national level that have joined the campaign and that have found important results in the consumption of straws.

Such is the case of La Leyenda, a restaurant in the downtown area of ​​Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosí, which has joined the campaign “Anti-POPOTES”, and this is how they promote it.

Table center with campaign propaganda for diners to read and know a little about it.

The owner, who has voluntarily adopted this action for the care of the environment comments that for almost 1 year has been working with this proposal and believes that it has produced good results to create awareness in its customers about the polluting effects of the use of straws. It has reduced its use and its economy as a business has also been favoured because it has stopped spending on these items. He tells us in an interview that he feels happy because he is somehow acting ethically to build a better future for everyone. They use these signs in the middle of the table and before the waiter delivers the drinks they will first ask the diners if they will want to use straws, showing them the publicity about the campaign.

Straws and their benefits.

They are a necessary utensil for people with mobility problems. However, despite popular belief, they do not serve as a hygienic alternative to take directly from a glass, says Palacios, a biologist at the UNAM. “If the glass is dirty, the liquid will be contaminated, no matter how you drink”, he explains. “In that case, the customer would also have to order disposable plates and cutlery if he does not want to expose himself”.

“People tend to shy away from green initiatives because they are scolding and have an air of condescension. That is why I do not want it to become a normative thing, if not to give an option and invite people to consider it. ”

Ocean = O2

At the rate that we are going, in a couple of years (not very distant ones), all or almost all of the marine animals will die because of contamination. There will be no seafood to supply restaurants and therefore the gastronomic tourism will be affected, there will be no marine fauna, and also those engaged in water tourism, such as scuba diving for example. The demand for these activities will be less and less as the sea gets more polluted and there will be nothing to sea under the water, other than pieces of garbage. These are just two simple examples of what might happen if we do not act on it.

People will no longer like to have vacations in those destinations, there will be no jobs, no money, no food to supply all the restaurants, and worse, there will be no more marine life.

It’s time to take action over this matter, we can still save what gives us life.

Scientists have reminded us that the oceans give us half the oxygen we breathe, they are regulators of the global climate, they are the habitat of many species and they are a much appreciated ecosystem for tourism and vacationing.

Did you know that the vast majority of the planet’s oxygen is not generated by forests but by coral?

Yes, coral reefs produce 80% of the oxygen that is essential for our lives. The vast majority of the planet’s oxygen is not generated by forests but by coral.

Coral reefs produce 80% of the oxygen that is essential for our life. Coral is very sensitive to temperature changes. A mere 2º Celsius increase in water temperature, due to global warming and greenhouse effect, can cause the death of 35% of the coral of our planet.

  • Objective:

Train and provide information so that at least 60% of the restaurants in the hotel zone of Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo stop serving straws in all or most of their beverages using advertising in which the client knows why there was no straw served with his drink.

  • What do we want to do?

We want to raise awareness about the terrible current situation of pollution in the planet, we must be alert to the things we buy, we may be conscience and responsible for placing the trash in “it’s place” but there’s a huge amount of waste we still don’t know it’s final destination, that is why we must be aware of what we consume and try to be responsible. Especially for people who live near or on the beach, the sea is our source of employment and literally from what we live.

For example if you sell food, what packaging do you offer or how do you serve it? Styrofoam, plastic, etc.? We think that we should be paying attention to what we consume. By polluting less, not throwing away garbage and generating less waste, will produce a common benefit, costs will reduce and we will have our natural conservation areas for longer.

Be a responsible tourist, explore and know the area. Do not destroy, do not defile and keep it clean, it will benefit us all.

  • Strategy:

Together with the support of CANIRAC (National Chamber of the Restaurant and Food Industry) of Zihuatanejo, information will be provided to the restaurateurs of the hotel area of Ixtapa about the importance of stopping serving straws in drinks and decrease the daily use of disposable plastics. Centerpieces will be designed to advertise the campaign and will be used in restaurants that join the initiative. Making it clear that if any clients need a straw, it can be requested without problem.


Because if it is not now, then when? If this campaign is really carried out in a responsible manner, we will all benefit from the passage of time instead of worsening the problem and increasing the pollution in the sea (as its currently happening) Slowly, little by little, restaurants will stop serving straws in drinks and diners will become accustomed to this practice, it really doesn’t change anything at all, and instead we contribute to the long term in this great initiative. Commitment and really wanting to contribute with a little grain of sand is so simple, but if it becomes constant, the changes will be HUGE.