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Shortly after Ted’s Montana Grill opened seven years ago, the restaurant instituted compostable straws in keeping with Ted’s environmentally friendly policies. The restaurant was so committed to those forward-thinking ideals that it contracted a toilet paper company to make the ultra-compact paper cylinders specially for the restaurant. A few weeks ago, though, when I stopped in to the Ted’s in Belmar for an early dinner, I didn’t feel very sustainable after using two straws. The first became so waterlogged it began to bend and flake apart in my glass, so I had to open a second, which lasted through the rest of my meal.
In recent years, I’ve become accustomed to straws (and forks and knives) made of sugar cane- or corn-based plastic thanks to companies like Boulder’s EcoProducts, Organixx, and Larkburger. Such utensils are fully compostable under the right heat and moisture conditions, but they still provide a normal eating experience. A plastic compostable straw does not fall apart in my Diet Coke. Of course, I appreciate the idea behind Ted’s straws and the fact that they don’t require special conditions to break down, but with the advent of compostable plastic, are paper straws a thing of the past?