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Local restaurants joining the move to eliminate single-use plastic straws

072618 pvh azu straw sign

Ojai Valley News photo by Perry Van Houten

A sign in the front window of Azu on Ojai Avenue states the restaurant's policy on straws.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter
Single-use plastic straws just plain suck.
That’s the message from two Ojai Valley restaurants that are pledging to do away with the straws, in an effort to raise awareness about the harm done by non-recyclable plastics.
The initiative gained momentum thanks to the Strawless Summer Challenge, launched in June by the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
“It’s aimed at reducing plastic pollution, as it affects our oceans and marine life,” said Surfrider Chapter Chair Laura Oergel.
To participate in the Challenge, restaurants take a pledge to become straw-upon-request, paper-straw-upon-request, or no straws at all.
Support for the initiative is growing countywide, Oergel said.

“My goal when we started was 30 restaurants,” she said. “We received our 30th pledge (July 25), in the city of Ventura, which makes me very happy.”
A sign in the front window of Azu Restaurant & Bar at 457 E. Ojai Ave. announces that the business has taken the strawless pledge.
For the past two years, Azu has provided customers paper straws upon request.
“People are so accustomed to it,” said Azu manager Elizabeth Haffner.
For cocktails, the restaurant cuts the paper straws in half to better fit the serving glass.
The Ranch House, at 102 Besant Road, offers its customers recyclable straws upon request and also signed the pledge, Oergel said.
Oergel wants to spread the word about the Challenge and urged uncommitted restaurants to take part.
“There are restaurants that are straws-upon-request that we don’t know about,” she said.
Local restaurants that banned plastic straws months ago and encouraged their customers to go strawless told the Ojai Valley News they were unaware of the Challenge, but expressed interest in taking the pledge.
Rainbow Bridge, at 211 E. Matilija St., and NoSo Vita, at 205 N. Signal St. in Ojai, provide paper straws only.
In Meiners Oaks, The Farmer and The Cook, at 339 W. El Roblar Drive, provides plastic straws for take-out orders only.
Plastic straws for dine-in have been banned entirely, said manager Gloria Swift.
“For our items, for here, we never put a plastic straw in,” Swift said. “This has been a cause of mine for a while.”
On one of her straw dispensers, Swift posted information she hopes will raise awareness of the damage caused by plastic straws.
“I made a little collage for the other one, with a fish, that informs people that we sell stainless steel straws,” she said.
The metal straws have been so popular that the restaurant is currently sold out, Swift said.
Restaurants are also experimenting with pasta and bamboo straws.
Regardless of how restaurants choose to ditch the single-use plastic straw, for Oergel, the ends justify the means.
“My favorite part about the Challenge is the awareness that’s created. There’s dialogue, momentum and restaurants are on board,” she said.
Following the two-day Surf Rodeo in Ventura in July, organizers teamed with Surfrider in hosting a two-hour beach cleanup.
“Ten people picked up over 800 straws,” Oergel said.
The movement to ban plastic straws globally gained traction in June, when coffee giant Starbucks announced it would ditch straws worldwide in 2020.
In January, Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) introduced AB 1884, that would require sit-down restaurants to have a straws-upon-request policy.
According to Calderon, the estimated 500 million straws used daily in the United States aren’t recycled and often end up in oceans and rivers, where wildlife can mistake them for food.
The Strawless Summer Challenge will continue through August, said Oergel, “… and we’ll see if it still has momentum.”
Restaurants interested in getting involved with the Challenge can email Oergel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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