First there was talk of a 5 cent tax on plastic bags. Paper too. That legislation is still in play and may even be revised to an outright ban on plastic bags. In the midst of this, a fast growing push to ban plastic drinking straws has emerged. Without government pressure, Starbucks announced they were banning plastic straws from its locations. Replacing it will be newly designed lids that have a spout to drink from. Picture your toddler's sippy cup and you'll get the idea. Then McCloone's announced all ten of its New Jersey locations would be phasing out straws. Employees at their restaurants are being retrained to stop putting even those little thin swizzle straws in alcoholic beverages. Industry insiders believe McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's are most likely next to self-ban plastic straws.

Tommy Farrell photo

While all this is going on, there's one place down the shore doing it right. Meg's Grill in Lavallette has put this sign up in their window. Our own Tommy Farrell took this photo. With the sun and glass reflection it may be hard to make out, but it reads "STRAWS UPON REQUEST ONLY Help us make a difference."

They're doing it right! They're not outright banning anything. They seem to simply be saying they won't automatically throw a plastic straw into everything, but if you want one it's no problem. Just ask and you'll have it. In my opinion this would easily cut at least in half the number of plastic straws used. I like to drink right from a glass in a restaurant so I for one wouldn't bother requesting a straw. When you make that decision for someone, that's when there could be backlash. And when government makes it for businesses, the backlash is all the greater.

Speaking of backlash, Starbucks has already suffered some. A disability rights group has taken them to task for their ban on plastic straws pointing out certain people in the disabled community can only drink from a straw and no other way. What Meg's Grill in Lavallette is doing seems like a reasonable, middle of the road approach. Good for them!

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