NEW YORK (May 23, 2018) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) kicked off its Give a Sip campaign today to support a bill introduced by Councilman Rafael Espinal that will eliminate the use of most single-use plastic straws in New York City.


Give a Sip asks New York City consumers, along with restaurants and businesses to support the legislation to stop using single-use plastic straws, which contribute to plastic pollution that harms a wide array of marine wildlife from whales to sea turtles.


The legislation prevents food service establishments in New York City from offering consumers single-use beverage straws or stirrers made of plastic or other non-biodegradable material.  It would still allow food service establishments to offer biodegradable and reusable straws to consumers. It also includes exemptions that allow food service establishments to continue to offer appropriate straws for people with disabilities or medical conditions.  Since this law will take effect 180 days after passage, it allows time for and consumers to be educated on the issue and food service establishments to prepare to make appropriate changes.


The announcement was made in lower Manhattan at the restaurant, Pier A, one of 132 partner organizations that have signed onto the campaign along with 50,000 members of the public.. Other partners include: Dead Rabbit; Black Tail; David Laris, CCO and Chef of Cachet Hospitality Group Global; Tom Colicchio’s Crafted Hospitality; and Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises.


“A single straw may seem like nothing. It’s not. Tons of plastic enter oceans around the world each year. New York can help lead the way by saying no to plastic straws,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs.Since they can’t be recycled, single-use plastic straws are among the main offenders. It’s happening in New York. Plastic pollution in our city is deadly for local turtles, fish, and birds. They can’t help getting tangled in it or mistaking it for food. Join us and let’s make a difference together.”


WCS, which runs the Bronx ZooNew York Aquarium,Central Park ZooProspect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo, has already eliminated plastic straws from all of its parks.


Said Council Member Rafael Espinal: “It’s no secret that we have a plastic problem. It is estimated that there are 13 million metric tons of plastic clogging our oceans and that 100,000 marine creatures die from plastic entanglement a year. But, there is something we can do about this trend and it could be as simple as changing how you drink your iced coffee in the morning or your cocktail at night.  With so many options available from paper to metal straws, we can make plastic a thing of the past. That is why I am proud to introduce legislation, which would virtually eliminate plastic straws from NYC venues, bars and restaurants.”


Said Anthony Malone, Director of Operations at Pier A: “Here at Pier A we are proud to support the Give a Sip campaign and see the industry-wide initiative to remove plastic straws from restaurants as a simple yet very meaningful change to our marine environment. It’s encouraging to know that small operational changes in business can create profound and long-lasting effects to our oceans, and we see this measure as the first step in an effort to eventually remove all single-use plastics from our operation.”


Said David Laris, CCO and Chef of Cachet Hospitality Group Global: “The single act of banning and removing plastic straws from our daily lives is not only an action that has an immediate positive affect, it also helps raise the awareness of the plastics in the environment. Cachet Hotels and Resorts fully support this bill and what it represents. We are so happy to see New York help spearhead this into legislation, setting an example to not just other cities and states, but to other nations.”


Said Tom Colicchio, Chef and Owner of Crafted Hospitality: “As an avid fisherman, I see firsthand the hugely negative impact the that single-use, plastic straws Americans use daily are having on our oceans. We're doing our part to fix that by initiating the process of eliminating them in all of our full service New York restaurants (with the help of Lonely Whale); it's been very reassuring in our early pilots that if you simply don't bring one with a beverage, almost no one asks for one.”


Said Adrian Grenier, Co-Founder, Lonely Whale, which produced the Strawless In Seattle campaign: “As a native New Yorker I know that this city can create a wave of change for clean seas - throughout all five boroughs. I hope the people of New York will join WCS and Lonely Whale and commit to #StopSucking by supporting the Give A Sip campaign. Together, our small commitments on behalf of our ocean have the power to drive a massive impact.”


In addition, The Oceanic Global Foundation, has been instrumental in supporting the campaign, having recruited a robust list of New York’s leading venues to back the bill. Oceanic Global has on-boarded partners through providing them with the Oceanic Standard tool-kit, a comprehensive guide to implementing sustainable practices in the hospitality industry, on both the consumer-facing side and in back-of-house activity.


Said Lea d’Auriol founder of Oceanic Global: “We’re thrilled to support WCS and Rafael Espinal in driving legislation to ban the use of plastic straws in New York. We view eliminating plastic straws as the ‘gateway’ step to for businesses and consumers to implementing sustainability on larger scale. Our hope is that through taking this initial action, the city of New York will continue to move towards a greener future, and inspire other global cities to follow its lead.”


Joining the campaign is the Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA), which seeks to support the growth and development of Yemeni-American merchants and their families through education, capacity building services, information, networking, and advocacy.


Said Zaid Nagi, Vice-President of YAMA, “The Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA) is proud to take the pledge and help make a difference on the fight for environmental efforts for humans and animals globally. Education for our merchants, the Bodega owners who are the backbone of New York City, on this Give a Sip initiative and doing what is right is not just a tool for development but essential for our future as a community--So Together, we’ll make NYC single-use plastic straw free!”


Plastic straws are among the most common litter items found on our beaches and in the world’s oceans. Sixty to 80 percent of all marine debris is composed of plastic; 260-plus species have ingested or been entangled by plastic debris.


Plastic straws cannot be recycled, so they either end up in a landfill or as litter where they eventually wind up in the ocean. Alternatives such as paper, bamboo, metal, or glass straws are readily available – or consumers can simply skip using straws altogether.


Plastic’s effect on marine life is staggering: An estimated 71 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs. And when an animal ingests plastic, it’s often fatal. In the ocean, plastic straws break down into “micro-plastics” where they can enter the food chain and wind up on our plates.  At the rate the world is polluting, experts say there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish by 2050.


WCS works across the world’s ocean and in nearly 60 countries. This summer, WCS’s New York Aquarium will open the Donald Zucker and Barbara Hrbek Zucker Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit, featuring over 115 marine species and with a focus on engaging New Yorkers of all ages to be stewards of the ocean.


To support the legislation, learn more, and download a toolkit, go to: