The Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island Chapter encourages all local businesses, particularly restaurants and food retailers, from providing plastic straws to customers and instead only allowing paper straws or re-usable straws, upon request.

Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws

-Plastic by-products do not degrade naturally, but break up into infinitely smaller pieces, which get ingested by sea life
-Plastic contains toxins which travel up the food chain and end up on our plates
-Plastic straws fill ocean gyres
-Plastic straws kill marine life and other organisms

Did you know approximately 500,000,000 single use plastic drinking straws are used and discarded every day? That is enough straws to fill 46,400 large school buses per year! This totals out to around 12 million pounds of plastic waste over a year and they are not recyclable. These petroleum plastics are designed to last forever and many of these straws break down into what’s known as micro-plastics and pollute our drinking water, sea salt and seafood.

Straws are often littered, or caught by the wind, and washed into storm drains that empty into streams and other waterways, ultimately ending up in our ocean and on our beaches.  Plastic straws rank in the top 10 for marine debris.  44% of all seabird species and 22% of cetaceans have ingested plastic.

Plastic straws are difficult or impossible to recycle and even biodegradable plastic straws are often discarded in landfills and do not biodegrade when littered in a marine environment or if they are not in the right industrial environment.

What We Are Doing

Reaching out to restaurants and bars
– Asking them to eliminate using plastic straws
– Asking them to only provide paper straws on request or offer reusable glass or metal straws
– Encouraging friendly competition to get other businesses to join in

Expanding awareness and creating positive change
– Order your drinks without a straw
– Purchase your own reusable straw available in metal, glass and bamboo
– Help to share this campaign, encourage your favorite businesses to contact us on our website, Facebook page or email, for resources on how to best go strawless and switch to paper on demand
– Join our Facebook pages Rise Above Plastics and SFVI to get more info and share our stories

What to do with the plastics straws now? We don’t want them ending up in the landfills!
Businesses can ask their wholesalers for a credit
Donate for craft projects to your local school, church, daycares

Let’s end the consumption of single use plastic, starting with straws, this will lead to other products like utensils, stir sticks and plastic bottles.

Business Owners Reference Guide

Suggested Signage

In an effort to protect the health of our ocean, lakes, and surrounding natural environment, we now only provide drinking straws on request. Please let your server know if you require a straw. Thank you for your support.

Alternatively Surfrider can supply a file for a page we created and you can add your own logo.

Where can I find alternative straws?

Ask your wholesaler, or below are some resources to help you start looking.  Ask to return plastic straws for a credit or ask us for other suggestions, we are working on, of what to do with them. 

Paper – Preferred option, as they are easily recycled, works out to be about .06 cents/straw for 400+ order
Aardvark (US) -gives 50% discount for Surfrider businesses, use promo- RESTAURANTS50
Green Munch (Calgary)
The Burlap Shoe (Zero Waste On-line Store, Victoria)- Will order and deliver to your business, for 35% off the retail price, in about a week.

Enviro Glass Straw, (Cobble Hill) -Offering 5% off for 50 straws, 10% for over 100 straws and 20% for 200 or more straws with either packaging or no packaging

Stainless Steel
The Burlap Shoe  (Victoria) – Will order and deliver, for 35% off the retail price, in about a week.
Onyx (Vancouver)

Compostable – NOT recommended as the lower mainland facilities (where most of our compost goes to), do not compost plastic or plastic like materials, as there is no way to tell the difference, they then go to the landfills (re: Recycling Hotline 604-732-9253). Only truly compostable if packaging states a certification symbol and then only suitable mainly in industrial facilities.

Eco-ware (Victoria) – Only recommended if you have a facility that can actually can handle plastic compostables. We are not aware of any at this time.

Biodegradable – NOT recommended as it does not break down efficiently in a landfill, not compostable or certified as safe, for the natural environment, once degraded.


  1. To search certified compostable products visit –
  2. Eco-Cycle FAQs –
  3. The Last Plastic Straw list of alternatives –

*Be aware- Straws can come wrapped in plastic covers; and there are some paper straws that have a thin plastic coating. Ask before ordering to ensure you are getting the best environmentally friendly products.


  • The Long Beach Lodge Resort, in Tofino, has stopped its practice of using 12,000 straws each year.
  • Clean Water Action in Montclair, New Jersey, said that one business, who offers straws on demand only, is using only about a tenth of the straws it typically uses on a monthly basis: 650 straws, down from the usual 6,800.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?