Final straw: San Marco BBQ joint switching from plastic to paper

Jacksonville restaurant joins national movement to help environment

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's the last straw -- of the plastic variety -- for a barbecue restaurant in San Marco after the owners decided to make some changes to help the environment.

The Bearded Pig is joining a national movement to cut down on one of the leading contributors to ocean pollution: plastic straws. 

Seattle has recently banned plastic straws and even airlines are phasing them out.

Plastic straws by the numbers

Source: National Park Service

More than 500 million straws are thrown out every day in the U.S., according to information from the National Park Service.

They're too lightweight to be recycled, so they end up in the dump or on the beach, and it could take up to 500 years for a single straw to completely decompose.

After hearing about the negative impacts plastic straws have on the environment, the owners of The Bearded Pig want their customers to “suck it up” with new environmentally friendly straws instead.

“It looks like a traditional, plastic straw but it's a coated paper straw,” co-owner Chad Munsey said. “It doesn't fall apart after a few minutes in a cup."

But the change to paper straws was not an easy decision.

“These straws are cost-prohibitive,” Munsey said. “They're 3½  to four times more expensive than a traditional plastic straw."

But Munsey said the social and environmental rewards will be worth it. He said a viral video of a biologist painstakingly removing a plastic straw lodged in the nostril of a Kemp's ridley sea turtle caught his attention. It made him think about the discoveries made in his restaurant's own backyard.

"When we were doing construction here at the restaurant, the one thing we kept finding in the grass area and the dirt were small cocktail straws,” Munsey said. “This building sat vacant for years."

Munsey said he plans to offset some of the cost of the paper straws by reducing how many straws are wasted, only giving them to customers who ask for them.

And the Bearded Pig isn't stopping with paper straws. It's going with reusable water cups and silverware, too, and is working on alternatives to plastic cups and silverware for to-go orders. 

Munsey said he hopes this move will inspire other business owners to get on board with more sustainable options.