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Greene Turtle, But Not McD’s, Says Goodbye to Straws


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More than 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States, according to The Greene Turtle.

It’s the final straw for The Greene Turtle, and that’s a good thing, is how Greg Pitkoff of Grip Communications cleverly put it, with the 46-unit sports bar and grill announcing its restaurants would go straw-free as of yesterday, May 23.

That’s World Turtle Day, and the move is meant to protect marine life. More than 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States, and Greene Turtle’s move will keep 7 million of those out of the ecosystem, according to the company.

“We’re excited to do our part by skipping the straw. When you start looking at the number of straws—it’s just nuts, isn’t it, when you think about it,” said Bob Barry, president and CEO of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille.

“A lot of people certainly are concerned about the plastic pollution that goes around. It’s interesting how many guest comments we’ve already gotten, and the PR we’ve gotten,” he said, adding reaction from customers has been “overwhelmingly” positive. “I’m like, we should have done this a long time ago.”

Biodegradable straws, distributed by Aardvark, will be available for certain beverages and upon request. “It’s four times the cost, a paper straw versus a plastic straw,” Barry said. “Over time it’s definitely a cost to us, but we’re doing them on request only, and I’ll see what kind of numbers people are estimating that we’re using.”

In support of the restaurant chain’s effort, Diageo, the beverage alcohol provider, will donate $1 of every bottle of Naked Turtle Rum sold at The Greene Turtle to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. 

Greene Turtle was started in 1976, “by two gentlemen that went to the Bahamas and they came upon a bar with 12 seats,” overlooking the Green Turtle bay in the Bahamas. 

True to its name (which added the ‘e’ because at the time the British empire ruled the Bahamas), The Greene Turtle has worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy for years, sponsoring sea turtle races to raise money and hosting employee events to build cages to protect the eggs, for example.

Meanwhile, at its annual meeting today, McDonald’s shareholders voted against a proposal to take the first step to phasing out the plastic straw, with only 7.6 percent of the votes in favor of the proposal.

The McDonald’s board had encouraged shareholders to vote against the proposal, saying it would divert focus and resources from other environmental initiatives, such as its effort to reduce its system-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent by 2030. 

Barry, for one, understands McDonald’s is a much different case than Greene Turtle, with people cruising through the drive-thru and eating in the car, not to mention in huge numbers. “I can see them having a difficult time” doing away with straws. “It would be tough to pop the top and drink something while you’re driving,” he said.

 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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