Testifying at DC Council Hearing on Plastic Straws & Stirrers

Taking the pledge to #StopSucking was relevant to the bills before a DC Council hearing last Friday. Co-Owner Dan Simons and Campaign Manager for Our Last Straw, Julie Sharkey, joined NGOs, DC government and elected officials, and DC residents to testify at a DC hearing on plastic straws and stirrers.

The DC Committee on Transportation and the Environment invited testimony on two amendments, including a bill that prohibits the sale, use, or provision of non-compostable straws and stirring implements by food service entities, beginning January 1, 2019.

At Farmers & Distillers, we made the switch to biodegradable straws over a year ago. In our three DC restaurants alone –Farmers & Distillers, and its siblings, Founding Farmers DC and Farmers Fishers Bakers – we have eliminated over 938,000 plastic straws from the DC trash stream in the last year. We did this by switching from compostable straws to paper and hay. We also have always used fewer straws than many, because we don’t use straws in water glasses and many of our drinks. Of course, if a guest requires a plastic straw, for health or disability reasons, we are keeping a small selection of plastic straws on hand.

Having been almost entirely in compliance with no plastic straws since the day we opened the doors of our first restaurant over 10 years ago, we are delighted to see interest from the DC government on the importance of eliminating plastic straws.

As Campaign Manager for Our Last Straw, Julie Sharkey testified, “Plastic straws, just like plastic bags, are the gateway to increased awareness about the environmental and health hazards of plastics, and a critical stepping stone on the path to reducing our reliance on single-use plastics.”

At Farmers & Distillers, and in all of our restaurants, we are working to educate our guests with the goal of making a real difference in our DC trash streams by stopping the distribution of items than end up on our streets, waterways, and landfills. To help efforts outside of our restaurants, we launched Our Last Straw in June and have built a coalition of approximately 150 restaurants, bars, and cafes working together to eliminate plastic straws. Our Last Straw is working closely with the DC Office of the Mayor and the DC Office of Energy & Environment. We also have established partnerships with multiple NGOs. A few of our partners also provided testimony at Friday’s hearing such as, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, and DC Doesn’t Suck.

The entire hearing was recorded and can be watched online.

Walking to the DC Convention Center for The RAMMY Awards Gala

It was a big night for DC’s hospitality industry last night with the annual RAMMY Awards Gala. Our family of restaurants team were delighted to walk a block down the street from Farmers & Distillers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and join our area’s fashionable restaurant industry foodies, about 2,400 of them, to celebrate the city’s big winners.

We brought along our Founding Spirits team to mix some of DC’s favorite cocktails, including our Cucumber Delight, a light and refreshing mix of our award-winning Founding Spirits Vodka and ginger liqueur, cucumber, cantaloupe, and lemon. As one of our most popular cocktails, also served at Founding Farmers, our Cucumber Delight has quite a fan club. It was the perfect craft cocktail to add to the evening’s celebrations.

In addition, this year’s festivities also included two important no’s for the hospitality industry: single-use plastic straws and Initiative #77. Our parent company, Farmers Restaurant Group, continues to support our employees working to save tips and vote no on Initiative #77.

We have also just launched a campaign to eliminate single-use plastic straws across the DMV. Our Last Straw is seeking partners in the local restaurant and hospitality industry to commit to stop serving plastic straws and make the switch to paper or to no straw at all when the beverage doesn’t need it. We are also seeking personal pledges to #StopSucking and join the movement to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics.

Kathy Hollinger, President & CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, announced the efforts of Our Last Straw, saying we all need to work together to 86 plastic straws starting now, which meant that no plastic straws were used at the gala. She also encouraged restaurants and individuals to take action by joining the Our Last Straw coalition.