Concerned about the environmental waste of plastic wrap, Sarah Kaeck, an avid gardener and home cook in Vermont, created Bee’s Wrap as a reusable, sustainable substitute. The cotton muslin cloths are dipped in beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin and are stiff until the heat of hands wrapping up fruit, vegetables, bread, baked goods and so on, warms them up to create a seal.
Beeswax and jojoba oil, the company says, have antibacterial properties and the sheets also come in sweet, colorful patterns, from honeycomb to clover. Just wash them in cool water with soap, dry, and use them again. $6 to $42 for individual and multipacks, O Soleil a La Maison, 180 Inwood Ave., Montclair, 201-452-8977, La Promenade, 137 Piermont Road, Tenafly, 201-567-2500, laprom.com; beeswrap.com.
Order a drink at Mama’s Fish House in Maui, and it’ll arrive topped with a black paper straw. At South Africa’s Conscious 108, you’ll likely get a straw made of steel.
And at Harlem Public, waiters hand out Twizzlers, with their tips cut off, for sipping certain drinks.
The best part? When they’re done slurping up their cocktails, “close to 100 percent” of customers eat the Twizzler-turned-straw, says owner Lauren Lynch. In other words: zero waste.
As local governments mull restrictions on plastic straws, restaurants and bars around the world are toying with new ways to replace a piece of plastic that has become a ubiquitous part of dining out, whether at a fast-food drive-through or a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Legislation introduced recently in California would make it illegal for waiters to dole out unsolicited plastic straws. Seattle is banning plastic straws and utensils beginning in July, and California cities Davis and San Luis Obispo now prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless requested by a customer. Coastal countries like South Africa, Costa Rica and Thailand have also been at the forefront of such a movement, shifting to straws made of bamboo, wood or paper instead of plastic.
“There is so much plastic waste that washes up on our beaches that we knew we had to do something,” said Emma Iacono, co-owner of Ylang Ylang Beach Resort in Montezuma, Costa Rica. “We’re trying to eliminate as much plastic as we can.”
The resort stopped using plastic straws nearly two years ago, and now provides biodegradable straws upon request.
“Some people are a little grumpy about it, but most of them understand,” Iacono said, adding that the resort went from using 500 plastic straws a week to about 25 biodegradable ones.
By some estimates, Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws a day. The no-plastic movement, which has grown steadily in recent years, gained momentum following a viral video three years ago that shows a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose. Walt Disney World has since banned plastic straws at some of its theme parks, and the Smithsonian Institution has taken steps to eliminate them from its museums. Even celebrities have taken note: Actor Adrian Grenier and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson are among those speaking out against plastic straw use.