Yellowstone Businesses Working Away from Plastic Straws

The city of Seattle has outlawed plastic straws.

That prohibition goes into effect next summer, but, businesses in and near Yellowstone National Park began a campaign to do away with plastic straws years ago.

Yellowstone National Park gets more than four million tourist visits every year. Many of those people will eat at Park restaurants. Xanterra operates most of the hotels and restaurants in Yellowstone.

Xanterra Director of Sustainability Dylan Hoffman said, “Over the course of a season, we serve about two million meals. That equates to about 17-thousand meals every day during our operating season.”

Hoffman said his company encourages customers to do without plastic straws. That was part of the sustainability movement that started seven years ago.

He explained, “In about 2011 we introduced our Choose to be Straw Free campaign.”

Hoffman said customers can still pick up straws in their fast food cafes.

But, if they order a drink in a restaurant here, “We would have a ‘ask first’ policy, so we never just automatically provide a straw.”

Hoffman said the move has saved more than just plastic waste. It’s saved Xanterra some money.

“It’s cut our usage, which ultimately cuts cost. We’ve seen a pretty significant reduction. I think it’s in the 60-70% range.”

Other park operations have eliminated plastic straws. If you buy a soda from a fountain at one of the gas stations in Yellowstone, the only straw you’ll get will be a paper one.

A new restaurant in Yellowstone’s northern gateway community, Gardiner, is giving customers another alternative to plastic straws.

Wonderland Waitress Chloe Chase showed us, “We have a biodegradable straw, or we have these metals straws that we can rewash, and reuse.”

Hoffman said his company has also stopped selling water in plastic bottles in the park.