An Appeal to Restaurant Staff

First of all, if you are a server in a restaurant, I want you to know that I always do my best to tip 20 percent. I think you have one of the hardest, most thankless jobs in the world. And we depend on you. I’m sure I encounter servers at least a hundred times a year. So thank you, for all that you do, and all that you put up with.

Having said that, I’d like to ask you a favor. Could you ask me if I’d like a straw, rather than just giving me one? Because I don’t want one. Here’s why.

According to this article, Americans use more than 500 million straws a day. That’s enough to circle the globe 2 ½ times daily. And the vast majority of these straws are plastic. They’re used once, and then discarded. They wind up in our landfills and in our oceans, and as I have written recently, we are drowning in plastic.

As a server, you are on the front line of plastic straw distribution. You and your colleagues could help stem this plastic tide. That, and you’d be saving your restaurant money. Worth thinking about.

I know you are restricted by certain policies. I get that. If you aren’t allowed to make this change independently, could you at least show your manager this blog post? Hopefully she or he will see the logic in my request.

So, I’ll keep tipping 20 percent for your job well done, if you’ll do your best to fight the battle of the straw. Yes? Excellent! You’re awesome.

(Oh, and while I have your attention, if you’re the type to call me honey, I know you mean well, but could you please just… not? It comes off as condescending. Thanks again.)

Incidentally, if you don’t work in a restaurant, but know someone who does, please spread the word! Education is the key to stemming our plastic tide.

Server with straws

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Textile Recycling

Here are some interesting statistics: According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. Textile waste accounts for 5 percent of all landfill waste. Only 15 percent of all post-consumer textile waste gets recycled each year.

I know I haven’t been recycling my clothing, shoes, sheets and blankets. I didn’t know you could. See, I’m cheap. I tend to wear clothes out until they are so raggedy that even a thrift shop couldn’t sell them. And even though I rarely eat catsup, somehow it seems to find its way to the front of every shirt I own, and then stubbornly refuses to leave despite my best cleaning efforts. So I’ve been tossing these things. Silly me.

Turns out you can still donate those unwearable rags to thrift shops and they will reap the benefits, because they can turn around and sell them to textile recyclers. And when those recyclers get these things, they then turn them into rags, insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for the auto industry. That’s brilliant.

The reason I discovered this is that I live in one of the coolest counties in the entire country, and they are promoting what they call “threadcycling”. It’s a program to educate people that this type of recycling can be done. I am all for keeping things out of the landfills, believe you me. So spread the word. We’re all in this together.

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Okay, so technically these are “new”. (Kids these days!) But what happens to them when they are worn out? (And how could you tell?)