Paper or plastic?

FORT WAYNE, IN—With hotel sustainability initiatives on the rise, single-use plastics are beginning to be a convenience of the past. Paper straws are taking center stage, and Aardvark, The Original Paper Straw, is hearing the industry’s cries for an eco-friendly yet durable alternative. Aardvark, based here, traces its roots back to the first-ever paper straw and offers hotels a selection of them ranging in size and color. They are even customizable.

“As the dangers of single-use, plastic straws continue to be brought to light, more consumers and businesses are understanding the lasting effects of these modern-day conveniences,” said David Rhodes, global business manager for Aardvark. “Now, more than ever, consumers are demanding that brands they interact with care about social responsibility. This is why it’s such an attractive time for hotels to introduce eco-friendly products.”

According to Rhodes, Aardvark straws are made with one-third more material than other paper straws on the market and are manufactured using FDA food-grade-approved ink so they won’t bleed ink or break down into beverages, yet only take 45-90 days to decompose. Aardvark straws are also made with an “eco-flex” design, making them a bendable or “flexy” paper straw.

The Chicago Athletic Association hotel in Chicago is just one of the many hotels that offers Aardvark straws to guests. Michael Mason, its director of restaurant, bars and events, feels plastic-free initiatives align well with hotels’ F&B offerings.

“The concern for our environment is a natural extension from farm-to-table and the use of local products. Plus, knowing our industry can make an impact really hits home,” Mason said, noting he has seen Aardvark straws hold up after being in diet soda for hours.

He also recognizes the power of the hospitality industry. “Since we are encouraging travel, which, in turn, creates pollution, we, as an industry, have the duty to limit the environmental impact as much as possible,” he said.

“The paper straw is just a gateway to promoting overall awareness to eliminate all single-use plastics,” Rhodes said. “Any plastic item that is used for a few minutes or a few days and then discarded should be on the list for replacement to a more sustainable product.”     —Abby Elyssa