The Clean Water Blog

Shannon Rose Cocktail_ReThinkDisposable_NJ_Photo by Doherty Enterprises

No Plastic Straws - New Jersey Restaurants Help Curb Plastic Pollution

Governments and municipalities all over the world are proposing bans on single-use plastic straws, from the U.K. to Monmouth Beach, New Jersey! Here in New Jersey, ReThink Disposable is excited to highlight restaurants who have changed their own policies on serving plastic straws in order to address the issues of plastic pollution in our oceans. Two such restaurants are The Shannon Rose Pub and Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas in North Jersey which have both stopped serving straws to customers, giving them out only when requested. 

Regan DeBenedetto, the Director of Operations at the restaurants, is from Bradley Beach and has witnessed first-hand the impact of litter on New Jersey's beaches. On any given day, you can find plastic straws, cups and other debris littering the sand and sea. DeBenedetto was inspired by Clean Water Action's "Straws By Demand" program that popped up at Asbury Park restaurants last summer so she brought the idea to her own business, noticing that most people don't mind drinking without a straw and decided, "if this is something little we can do to make a difference, we want to be a part of it."

And what a difference the restaurants have made! DeBenedetto reports that after discussing the change with her management teams, establishing a written policy, re-training staff on the policy, each restaurant location saves approximately 35,000 straws a month. By year’s end, the four locations together, with a combined total of over 500 seats, will prevent 1.68 million straws from entering the waste stream and littering our environment. 

Shannon Rose Ramsey_ReThinkDisposable_NJ_Photo by Doherty Enterprises

The Shannon Rose in Ramsey, New Jersey

The staff of each restaurant prepared for the policy change by learning about pollution from single-use disposables and doing some role-playing to practice talking points for customers. At first, if any guests had questions about the program, a manager would always visit the table to address any concerns.

"The goal was to make sure customers were always satisfied while also establishing a level of serious commitment to reducing waste," said DeBenedetto. "After learning about the reasons behind the new policy, customers started to adapt and even started to expect no straw."

Spuntino Clifton 2_ReThink Disposable_NJ_Photo by Doherty Enterprises

Spuntino Wine Bar in Clifton, NJ

The Shannon Rose and Spuntino have also taken further steps to prevent waste at their locations. Instead of using beverage napkins under plates, The Shannon Rose now uses cut squares of old menus. Spuntino’s bar serves wine and cocktails on tap. By ordering, shipping, and storing in bulk, the restaurant reduces its waste from packaging materials and saves money. DeBenedetto’s team also strives to serve locally sourced and made food and partners with City Green, an urban farm and community organization in Clifton, New Jersey.

The response to the “Straws By Request” policy has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to The Shannon Rose and Spuntino for becoming part of the ReThink Disposable movement in New Jersey! Clean Water Action recognizes both restaurants as model businesses for our ReThink Disposable program to prevent waste before it starts. To learn more about the program, visit rethinkdisposable.org. And When you visit these restaurants, be sure to show your appreciation!

The Shannon Rose is located in Clifton and Ramsay.

Spuntino Wine Bar is located in Clifton, NJ and Garden City, NY. 

ReThink Disposable is funded by a grant through the Northeast Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Trash Free Waters initiatives, and the Environmental Endowment of New Jersey.