By Heather Bennett Eye
South Walton is home to unique and delicate ecosystems and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Plastic straws are one of the top offenders of garbage cleaned up along the shore. Not only do they litter the beach, but they pollute the ocean, and they’re an overall hazard for our ecological community.
Kristy and Clayton Green, owners and operators of Crackings in Grayton Beach, took the environment into consideration when they decided to ‘skip the straw’ and did away with plastic straws about five years ago, and are asking other local restaurants to consider doing the same. “We took the pledge, and you can, too,” stated Kristy. “We wanted to do our part and eliminate this one piece of plastic.”
Local coastal cleanup crews can easily find 500 plus straws in one day. Those are the ones that don’t make it into the Gulf. Plastic is detrimental to the life and survival of our marine life, especially the endangered sea turtles that nest on our beaches. On a recent trip to the water, Kristy noticed the impact. “We looked over the side rail and there were so many straws and garbage. This is why I don’t do straws,” she said.
Crackings does offer environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic straws for people who really need one. In addition to stainless steel reusable straws, they are now offering bamboo straws. These straws are 75 cents for guests to purchase and all proceeds go to the local Friends of South Walton Sea Turtle Watch, a nonprofit organization that conducts sea turtle nesting surveys and inventories, and responds to sick or injured sea turtles.
Kristy admits that it hasn’t always been easy, but they held to their convictions and stuck to their guns. “We’re not trying to make money from the straw,” stated Kristy. When people purchase them, it’s for a good cause. “When we word it like that, people are more inclined to make a donation,” she said. “We would love it if other restaurants would do this. We are blown away that we are so close to the beach and other restaurants don’t do this.” Her advice? “Take the pledge to skip the straw.”
For restaurants interested in purchasing bamboo straws, you can contact Ray Cyr at 850-797-3546 or visit www.theotheturtle.com. You can also contact Life Media at 850-399-0228. Why bamboo? Paper and other plant-based straws are passed off as biodegradable, but contain polyfluoroalkyl substances known as “forever chemicals” that have an extreme resistance to environmental breakdown. Plus, paper can get mushy.
Crackings, family owned and operated since 2005, is located at 51 Uptown Grayton Cir, and serves breakfast, brunch and lunch Tuesday – Sunday with live music daily. You can feel good about helping the environment while enjoying a delicious meal and having a good time. We admire Kristy and Clayton for taking the pledge to skip the straw and hope you will, too.