How To Never End Up With a Straw You Don’t Want

Daniel Culotta IMPACT MILL CONTRIBUTOR
Bartender

If you use reusable straws, it’s bound to happen. You sit down at a restaurant or sidle up to the bar and order a drink. You grab your reusable straw out of your bag, and just as you turn around the waiter plops your drink in front of you with a big ‘ol plastic straw in it. It’s such a bummer when you have your reusable straw ready to go and still end up with a single-use plastic one.

So how do you avoid this? It just takes forming one small, simple habit – saying “no straw, please” with your drink order.

“…and No Straw, Please”

A single-use plastic straw that could’ve been avoided | image: Ramsha Darbha on Flickr Creative Commons

It may sound silly or even a little weird. I mean, have you ever heard anyone make specific requests around a straw before? Probably not, but you should, so let’s start this trend.

See, waiters and bartenders are often taught to include straws in drinks without asking if the customer wants it. It’s easy and second nature for them, so unless you specifically call it out, you’re usually going to end up with a plastic straw whether you want it or not.

So here’s how to avoid it. When you make your drink order—any drink order—finish it by saying, “and no straw, please.” Most waiters and bartenders will hear you and comply with no problem. Others may respond with a “what?” because they’re not used to this type of request. Just say “I don’t need a straw,” and they’ll get the picture.

The key is remembering to add that phrase to your drink order every single time. Because every single plastic straw sucks, and you don’t want to end up with even one you don’t want.

Practice Makes Perfect

Bartender

Just remember to ask your bartender for “no straw, please!” They should be happy to oblige | image: Gerorgio Pauwels on Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s practice. You sit down for lunch and see the waiter approaching with a glass of water. Before he sets it down, say:

“Thanks so much for the water, and no straw, please.”

Now you’re at that new trendy cocktail bar you’ve been dying to try. Here we go:

“I’ll take the cardamom and jalapeño Old Fashioned infused with essence of pine, with no straw, please.”

And now for the toughest challenge: the group drink order. Waiters are usually so concerned with keeping everyone’s preferences straight they may not hear your straw request. In this case, you’ll need to be a little more direct.

“I’ll take a raspberry Italian soda, and can you please make sure my drink doesn’t come with a straw? Thanks!”

You’ll probably even motivate some of your dining mates to skip the straw as well. Ultra bonus.

An Easy Order

You’ve taken the awesome waste-slaying step of switching to reusable straws, and by adding “no straw, please” to the end of every drink order, you’ll be sure to never end up with a piece of plastic in your glass that you don’t want.

Now, about that Old Fashioned…

Daniel is an Impact Mill co-founder, sustainability nerd, optimistic idealist, and community advocate who loves making the world a better place, one great idea at a time. He has a Masters degree in Sustainability from the Arizona State University School of Sustainability.