Save the Planet

Survival Tips for Portland’s Brave New Plastic Straw-Free World

Swap out that single-use plastic for locally made, reusable goods...OR ELSE.

By Olivia Wolf October 1, 2019

Begone, plastic straw

The next time that spectacled, sleeve-covered cutie at Stumptown hands you that iced Nitro cold brew, you may notice something missing (and it won’t be those 2-inch gauges).  

As of October 1, every food and beverage business in Portland, from Pizza Jerk and Matt’s BBQ Tacos cart down to [insert your favorite GrubHub/Caviar/Seamless delivery app spot here] will cease to automatically provide customers with plastic straws, utensils, and packaged condiments

The goal? To reduce the horrific daily disposal of 500 million single-use straws nationwide and the world’s yearly dump of eight million tons of plastic into the ocean. 

While restaurants have been gradually hiding their straws behind counters since city officials first mailed out notification letters in June, a violation of the new plastic restriction policy from now on will stick businesses with a $100 fine on their first offense. Subsequent violations will rise up to $500.

Can’t stand to go without your environmentally hazardous plastic? Just ask. Establishments are still allowed to keep small stocks of plastic straws available upon request (mostly in consideration of those with certain physical disabilities). But why not consider ditching not only the plastic, but even single-use paper, cardboard and cornstarch alternatives? Even if they are labeled as compostable, recyclable, or biodegradable, these work-arounds still require detrimental amounts of energy, all for a single soda or salad. (Plus, many get all soggy after a few sips.)

Instead, try opting for one of these local-ish reusable straws and utensils that are both fully functional and eco-friendly. 


Dräenk’s 8.5-inch planet-saving style statement is all stainless steel sex appeal. Well, maybe not, but it is sleek, polished, and makes carrying around a reusable straw much more chic. Each straw is soldered by Portland founders Danielle Elsener and Clayton Haun, who then string it across a 28-inch sterling silver chain . The smaller, more inconspicuous model is perfect for a fizzy Aperol spritz, and the thicker one makes sucking up every last damn boba a breeze. $28, via


Stay old-school with Bambu’s bamboo straws and silverware. The Portland-based, Chinese-crafted company carries everything from teething tools for infants to sporks and “spoontulas.” Besides their innovative Western ware, they also design chopsticks and rice paddles. Although Chinese-made goods sometimes get a bad rap due to poor labor practices, Bambu ensures that its employees are working in safe conditions and paid fair wages. A set of four sporks is $10.50 at

Simply Straws

This certified B-corp, mother-daughter straw company offers colorful glass collections and lifetime guaranteed stainless steel sets that are endorsed not only by dentists, but also by National Geographic. In fact, National Geographic and California-based Simply Straws offer an exclusive straw line sporting the NatGeo logo. A portion of the proceeds from those sales will help to benefit both the National Geographic Society and 1% for the Planet. NatGeo kit, $22 at

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