How to Refuse a Straw – Politely

How to refuse a plastic straw

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

How to Refuse a Straw – Politely | I know it can be hard to muster up the courage to ask for something abnormal. I get it. At first, I wasn’t completely comfortable either. But, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t all too abnormal after all. The “no-plastic-straw” movement has begun and I’m seeing more and more restaurants become “straw free” zones. It’s fantastic. But for the places who just won’t give up the pesky plastic polluters. I’ll give you my tips on how to politely refuse a plastic straw.

Assess the Situation

First, you’ll want to just scan the restaurant to see how straws get into the glasses in the first place. Do the wait staff bring your drinks to the table with a straw already in them, do they bring “complimentary” plastic straw waters to your table before you even sit down, or do they just lay them on the table for your to unwrap and stick into your drink. This may seem like overkill but trust me, straws are hard to avoid sometimes.

Simply, Ask

When you sit down, politely say “Can I have an iced tea (or whatever drink you want) without a straw, please?” That’s usually all it takes. Is it really any different than asking for extra ice or with a slice of lemon? It’s merely a request and there’s no harm in that. Of course, there will be several instances where the server will forget and that’s ok! It’s not about being perfect, it’s just about trying.

If you want, bring your own.

There are so many options. Check out my post: 6 Plastic Straw Alternatives. I personally, like using my own.

Be the Activist

Now, this is merely a bonus, extra credit task. Talk to the store manager or corporate. Suggest to them that straws should be by request only because of the detrimental impact they all have on our planet. So many restaurants are moving forward with this action. It’s amazing.

If you need a little help with how to word a letter, I’ve done it for you. You’ll just need to change a few names here and there.

[Insert Restaurant Name]:
Given the recent evidence on how plastic straws are damaging our environment, I’d like to suggest that you consider straws be “by-request” only. This not only helps protect resources and our planet, it saves your bottom line in supplies costs.
So many restaurants and cities are already on board with this initiative including Chicago’s largest restaurant group and McDonald’s. If we aren’t a part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
We have to move past single-use plastics as the resources that go into producing the millions of straws per day that we use is extensive and completely unnecessary.
I think it’s time we do better and I hope you consider this solution as an option for your operation.
[Insert Your Name]


And for you amazing restaurant owners  – or if you work for a restaurant, I have made a sign for you to proudly display to let your customers know you are moving past the plastic straw. Email me if you’d like the actual image file.

No plastic straws


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