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A new way to sip your tea: Making the switch to straw alternatives

Cafes in Johnson City are making the switch to metal and hay straws to eliminate the use of plastic straws. (Christy Calcagno/WCYB)

Some cafés and restaurants in Johnson City are reducing the use of plastic straws for the sake of the environment.

From Seattle to Johnson City, plastic straws may become more of a thing of the past.

More cafés and restaurants are offering metal and hay alternatives that are easy to maintain.

Dos Gatos Coffee Bar in Johnson City is one of several in the area.

Barista Whitney Andes is excited for the new change in straws.

She said, "It's really cool to see that almost every person is onboard with it and says, 'yea I'll choose to use that' instead of a typical plastic straw."

Straws are usually made from plastic that never breaks down.

They make up the top ten items picked up at beach cleanups.

But that's not the only place people dispose of plastic straws.

Carter County Commissioner Ross Garland helped pick up trash last weekend and noticed how many straws were thrown away.

He said, "The big trend these days are the plastic straws which I have found quite a few of those. People need to understand that it is trash and it does litter up our highways."

A local environmentalist group called SmashParks offered the alternative straws to local businesses.

Project Manager of SmashParks, Liz Carnell, said the switch is easy.

She said, "That's something that is easily reduced by just either opting for no straw or using a stainless steel straw that can be re-used over and over."

The metal alternative straws are reusable, easy to clean, and they help the environment.

"They can be easily cleaned with a brush. We actually provide restaurants with a brush and you can put it in the dishwasher and clean it that way," said Carnell. "There is no difference to silverware that we use at restaurants."

The straw alternatives are not just in Johnson City.

Seattle is set to enact a ban on plastic straws and utensils.

Starbucks also joined the movement by announcing this morning the phase out of the straws from all of their stores by 2020.

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