Restaurants recognized for going plastic-free in July

More than a dozen eateries committed to reducing single-use plastics

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By Melissa Elsmo

Food Writer

According to Stephen Morales, a member of Oak Park's Environment and Energy Commission , the Plastic Free July Program went very well. The campaign received attention in the community and boosted awareness about the importance of eliminating single use plastics throughout the village of Oak Park and beyond.

"In general, we feel that the Plastic Free July program shows that the village wants to do more for our environment," said Morales via email. "Going forward, we would like to expand on the success of Plastic Free July through other community and village-level activities."

In the end, Oak Park and Forest Park combined had about a dozen restaurants officially participating in the program throughout July, but the League of Women Voters identified several more restaurants that were simply trying to be more plastic free.

"We were happy to see many local restaurants are eager to do as much as possible to go green in their restaurants," said Beverly Graham, president of the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest. "We hope their considerable efforts will inspire others to follow suit."

As part of the Plastic Free July campaign the League's Environment Committee contacted local restaurants asking them about their use of disposable plastics. Over the course of July the committee continued their effort and expanded the "best of the best list" to include five new restaurants and three honorable mentions. The committee is working to create window decal to honor the restaurants listed.

The committee was particularly pleased with the environmentally friendly practices at Small Batch Barbecue in Forest Park. The food-scene newcomer opened on Madison Street on July 6. The barbecue joint is designed to avoid food waste food waste by controlling quantities and also limits the use of single use plastics throughout their operation.

Graham also shared that Spilt Milk staff members were quick to praise their eco-conscious customers for bringing their own bags and containers to transport their bakery purchases. 

"Little things like that make a big difference to our local restaurants," says Graham, "and I feel like this effort is really taking off in our community."

 This story has been corrected to reflect Stephen Morales is an EEC Commissioner and not the EEC, Chair. As of the date of publication Nick Bridge served as the EEC, Chair in Oak Park. 


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Reader Comments

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Katelyn Power  

Posted: August 22nd, 2019 11:21 PM

Helen, I agree. They're not the answer, but I think they're the best solution right now. Something better needs to be in place before we start a crusade on plastic straws. Or at the very least, stop judging people who do ask for one.

Helen Vogel  

Posted: August 22nd, 2019 2:54 PM

Thank you Katelyn, but I disagree. There is an allergy risk to plastic straws too. . A paper or bamboo straw holds up for "single use" just fine-though true not for hot, but the plastics don't do much better. And there are some paper straws that are positionable. I don't think single use plastic straws are an answer either. FYI- I bring my own metal straw with me and often have extras to give my friends to keep. And please don't put me in the category of those who feel that disabled people are ruing our green initiative. It couldn't be further from the truth and I think people saying so are disgusting. It's really simple. If you NEED a straw, use one, ask for one, or bring one, if not then don't.

Katelyn Power  

Posted: August 22nd, 2019 2:01 PM

Helen, there is an allergy risk to paper and bamboo straws and honestly, paper straws really don't hold up long term, nor with hot beverages. Also, they're a potential choking hazard. Neither bamboo nor paper straws are positionable. There is a very easy chart that speaks to all this, which you can find online. It really is as Emily points out. People want to be proud of their green initiatives, but they're angry that disabled people who need single-use plastic straws are "ruining" it. Instead of being met with understanding, many who need these straws are met with hostility or derision, and I just don't think that's right.

Emily Lloyd  

Posted: August 12th, 2019 5:57 PM

"We want to be proud of ourselves but disabled people are ruining it".

Emily Lloyd  

Posted: August 12th, 2019 5:49 PM

Helen Vogel  

Posted: August 12th, 2019 1:22 PM

Katelyn- It doesn't have to cause a detriment for those that need the use of straws. There are single use paper straws or bamboo straws. Both work well. I encourage these restaurants to look past July and work towards a plastic free, single use solution in all disposable products from July to June.

Katelyn Power from Oak Park  

Posted: August 10th, 2019 12:03 AM

What's the environmentally friendly replacement to the straw, that a restaurant can reliably use? A tool so many disabled people need in their day-to-day drinking? I'm all for eliminating single-use plastics, cutting down on food waste, and bringing our own bags and containers for transport home, but when eliminating a single-use plastic causes a detriment to people who seriously need to use one to be able to drink at a restaurant, I say, what's the solution?

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