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Sip it up for the environment



It’s common practice to kick up your heels after a long, tiring day at work in a pub or bar in the city, sipping on a cool cocktail or even some fresh coconut juice at home. One often tends to forget — in a hurry to consume the refreshing goodness — that you end up using one or two straws for your drink.

It’s these straws, so mindlessly used at times that end up becoming sources of plastic pollution. They end up entering landfills and even destroying marine and sea life when they gets into waterways.

Well, Mumbai’s pubs and café outlets have already set out to do their part to make sure the plastic waste generated at their end reduces, with the help of straws made of recyclable material. While a few outlets started using these organic paper straws a while back, many caught on with the trend after last month’s plastic ban in the city.

Take, for example, the newly opened Filli Café in Kala Ghoda. The outlet has assured patrons that all the products it uses, including the straws, are organic and biodegradable. “The use of plastic is affecting the environment,” says Tarannum Dhange, MD and CEO of Filli. “It’s important that we try and reduce the use of plastic by opting for less harmful options. Since the government has now come up with stringent plastic use norms, we’re better prepared.” Filli uses not just organic paper straws, but also biodegradable cups and eco-friendly take-away bags.

Tarannum Dhange

Tarannum Dhange

Adding to Tarannum, Joaquim D’Souza, manager of Khar Social, says, “This is a kind of global initiative, and we’re doing our part by participating in the cleanliness movement by reducing the use of plastic straws. We will also soon replace out containers and stirrers with cardboard.”

The trend of using paper straws isn’t a new one, with outlets around the world fast embracing the movement. However, in Mumbai, since they’re still new, paper straws evoke curiosity for first-timers.

“People are educated and aware about changes, so we don’t have to explain these much. There are customers who are inquisitive about how they’re made though,” smiles Joaquim. Tarannum too smiles, saying her customers are happy with this change. “Oh, they’ve appreciated the initiative. So far, we haven’t come across any problems on those front,” she says.

The real challenge these joints are facing, however, is making a straw last the duration of the drink. But that does not deter them from fighting the good fight. “The straw becomes soggy, and we do end up changing those often,” reveals Vernon D. Almeida, assistant manager of Raasta Bombay, Khar. “If they’re of a good quality, these straws often last over 30 minutes.”

These straws are, however, more expensive than their plastic counterparts. “Yes, they are costlier, and we use it with only some drinks. Sometimes customers just don’t want to use these straws,” shrugs Vernon.

On the other hand, Tarannum says it’s worth the extra money the outlets have to shell out. “The change is for the better,” she smiles. “Papers straws are better for the environment and don’t have any side effects like plastic straws. There are far many positives, so the price doesn’t pinch the consumers too much either.”

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