Local cafes are taking steps to become plastic-free and use alternative products in line with the looming ban on plastics by the Government.
Krush Smoothie and Juice bar in Motootua have gone beyond a plastic straw ban and have applied a “plastic tax” in a bid to encourage their customers to bring in their own cups to take away their smoothies.
The smoothie and Juice bar now charges 70 sene for a takeaway cup and paper straw, which at first was a shock to their regular customers.
According to the Manager Sofia Paul, the change is slowly being welcomed and they have noticed that people’s eating habits are changing as an effect of their plastic policy change.
“For our regulars, it was a big shock but when we explain why, they accept it and it’s just a matter of getting used to it,” she said.
“But the tourists are really happy that we have this policy and they want to see more of it. On our signage we let all our customers know about it and why we are doing it.”
“Often when we tell people about the extra costs they just end up staying in at the café to eat. Most of the time when people request a takeaway cup it’s because they think they might not finish it so now they opt to sit in and eat their food.”
As well as bringing in paper straws for their takeaway customers, Sofia said now they use steel metal straws which have been cost effective for their business and a novelty for their customers who have the option of buying their own to reuse.
“For takeaway we give out paper straws but if you stay in we now serve people with metal straws and chopsticks, which we can then wash and clean then reuse. We also sell them so people can carry them where ever they go. Its 10 tala for one and our first lot all sold out - they come in fun colours now which people will love.”
“We are buying a lot less takeaway stuff because before we were going through so much and then on top of that we now have less waste. Before when people go they leave their rubbish behind as well as their plastic straws, But using metal straws we are able to clean them and reuse them, it’s so much better.”
Krush management has also gone another step further by using paper box takeaways for their noodles and they also encourage people to bring their own containers to take away their food.
Owner of Kofe Haus in Vaitele, Beatrice Ott says they have started to implement their plastic ban by getting rid of plastic straws and intend to take a slow and steady pace in making sure that their customers get used to the idea.
The café got rid of their plastic straws on the first of June and according to Ms. Ott, the customer feedback has been mainly positive
“People have been very supportive and very happy that we went that way,” she said.
“At first we were reluctant because we didn’t know how our customer would react because there are a lot of people who like using straws because they’re convenient and sanitary.”
Ms. Ott says they are looking to take it up a notch in purchasing alternatives but she pointed out that one of their cafes main attraction are their reasonable prices on coffee and food. The cost of purchasing new alternatives may then have to be reflected in their prices.
“I know other cafes use paper straws and we will definitely be looking to adopting that too but I was looking at the price difference and they are quite pricey in comparison. We’re also looking at adding wooden cutlery for take away. I know that a local lady makes them so that’s an option for the near future.”
“We will be taking it slow because if we do decide to go the whole way in supporting a shift to being totally environmentally friendly then we will have to look at changing our prices which may affect our customer base. It’s just about trying to find a happy balance between the two things.”
In taking steps to become more environmentally responsible, Co-owner of Coffee Bean, Andrew Pedrana says the public need to also be more proactive and understanding of what it means to be plastic free.
“I stopped buying plastic straws months ago and we’ve opted to using thee paper coffee cups for takeaway smoothies,” Pedrana said.
“However my staff sometimes pops out to the shop to buy a packet of plastic straws to satisfy an irate customer who feels inconvenienced.”
“I don’t blame my staff for doing that because of the whole ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy but our customers also need to start asking for straw-less because then we won’t buy straws. It would also be good if they could have a better understanding of why we are beginning to take steps towards a plastic free environment because in the long run the long term benefits far outweigh the small inconvenience.”