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Palm Beach County restaurant ditching plastic straws to help the environment

Posted: 6:23 PM, May 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-28 22:23:55Z

A small piece of plastic is stirring up a big movement across the country and local restaurants are joining in by saying goodbye to plastic straws. 

“For the most part, we don’t use straws at home, so we don’t really need straws in the restaurant," said Vaughan Dugan, owner of Kapow Noodle Bar in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.

At Kapow Noodle Bar in Mizner Park, the restaurant goes through 300,000 plastic straws a year.

“Restaurants specifically are a very wasteful industry," Dugan said.

About six months ago, Kapow stopped automatically giving plastic straws to customers unless they specifically request one.

Now, they're getting rid of plastic straws and stirrers altogether and hoping to replace them with a sustainable alternative for when a customer wants a straw to use.

"It’s important that what we do here has an effect right down the street and we take action to curb that," Dugan said.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center sees the effects of overuse of straws firsthand. A one-year-old hawksbill turtle named Sherman came into the center from Vero Beach a few weeks ago. Since then, he's been passing small pieces of plastic. Dr. Charles Manire said that's commonplace among the small turtles the center has rescued over the last three years.

“I think there’s only been one in about 100 that did not have plastic," Dr. Manire said.

Dr. Manire thinks Sherman could have blockage in his intestine from that plastic, which can't be operated on because the turtle is too small.

“Turtles mistake this for food and eat it and sometimes they can pass it, but oftentimes it may block their gut and cause them to die," he said.

Kapow is part of the Subculture group of restaurants, which Dugan estimates use 4 million straws a year in total. They're all taking steps toward being straw free.

"If you absolutely need a straw, we’ll get it for you," he said. "Hopefully at some point it will be from some material that we could either reuse or it’ll just disintegrate in a landfill.”

“Every one of us are responsible to do some of the little things that we can do," Dr. Manire.