Have you heard the news?! Surfrider Portland attended a city council meeting last week and a resolution was passed! We will be working alongside the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and our business partners  to create a strategy to reduce the use of single use plastics, including the plastic straw, in the city of Portland.  The resolution specifically requires the strategy to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ultimately, the City’s strategy for plastic reduction will lead to ordinances such as a ban on single-use plastic straws. We at Surfrider Portland were extremely pleased with the amount of support given by the Mayor, council members, and all of the business testimonials.

Susan Anderson, director of BPS, provided the council with research stating that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. She pointed out that New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boulder are some examples of cities that have already taken legal action to reduce single use plastic and Portland should be next.

Nancy Nordman, the Ditch The Straw Coordinator for Surfrider Portland, informed members that 100+ restaurants and businesses have already committed to taking action in reducing their use of plastic straws. Briana Goodwin, Surfrider’s Oregon Field Manager, pointed out that there is also a statewide and global awareness on this issue with companies like McDonald’s, KFC, and Alaska Airlines ditching the straw in certain locations.

Hillary Barbour, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Burgerville, testified that the resolution and the promise to develop legislation phasing out Portland’s reliance on harmful materials like single-use plastic straws aligns with their company values. Barbour also stated Burgerville looks forward to working with the City of Portland to help craft legislation that opens new conversations with the public about waste reduction.

Julia Person, the Sustainability Director of Widmer Brothers Brewing, stated that they were the first business to ditch the straw when our program initially culminated in August of 2017. That month they vowed to ditch the plastic straw completely and offer paper straws upon request only. Their records show that they avoided using 1,883 straws by only offering them upon request.

Kate Icopini, the General Manager of St. Jack restaurant, said they haven’t seen a single challenge since making the switch to metal straws. This year alone they would have normally spent $400 on straw orders, but instead paid $60 upfront in January for metal straws and haven’t had to order new ones since.

HI Portland Hawthorne Hostel also provided written testimony, highlighting the 15+ businesses on Hawthorne Blvd. that are participating in a month long ditch the straw pilot for the month of June. Many of those restaurants have reported finding the switch to an Upon Request Policy and paper straw alternative to be “much easier than expected” with no noticeable negative impact to their patrons. 

We are very grateful for the overwhelming amount of support we have gotten for this resolution. The Mayor complemented Surfrider on the outstanding work that’s been put in and said he couldn’t wait to have a #DitchTheStrawPDX t-shirt of his own.

Thank you to all our supporting businesses, volunteers, community members, and plastic-free enthusiasts! We could not have done it without you!  

This is a big success and we are certainly celebrating, but the work continues as our program will stay in place!  If you would like to get more involved, please consider attending some of our upcoming events:

  • July 10th Sellwood Action Day Cleanup
  • July 29th Surfrider Annual Soiree

Or check out more information about the #ditchthestrawPDX program, including a map of local businesses who have ditched and a list of recent press, on our DTS program page. And remember to continue asking for drinks with “no straw please!”