High Tide

The CapeMay.com blog

The rise of reusable and paper straws in Cape May

It’s no secret that our environment has been going through some drastic changes. Staying up to date with the ever-growing and ever-improving reduce, reuse, and recycle can feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to truly limit your waste and plastic usage⁠—you are not alone!

Chances are you have recently walked into a coffee shop or restaurant, whether in Cape May or elsewhere, and have seen or been given a paper straw. Chances are you had a moment where you asked yourself, “Where are the regular straws?” Well, we are happy to say that in Cape May, many businesses are putting their best foot forward in reducing the reliance on single-use plastics.

Why is this important? Single-use plastics that end up in the ocean pose a threat to marine wildlife.

Exit Zero Filling Station with a great selection of paper straws | Photo by Michelle Giorla

Back in May, NJ.com wrote a terrific article about the updates of single-use plastic bans and where we are as a state and also a country. They wrote, “Now a growing number of states are outlawing single-use plastics. Maine became the latest on Tuesday, when the Gov. Janet Mills signed a new law banning polystyrene food containers, including Styrofoam. New York passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at the end of March.”

There are numerous coffee shops and restaurants that have jumped on the paper and stainless-steel straw wagon. Take Out There Coffee and Magic Brain for example. Out There Coffee provides a selection of both paper and stainless steel straws (which come with a rubber topper and a cleaning sponge⁠—so awesome!). Magic Brain is also providing paper straws with their trendy logo stamped on them, and we are absolutely loving it.

Wondering what Cape May locations are opting for paper or biodegradable straws?

  • Magic Brain Cafe
  • Out There Coffee
  • Elaine’s Restaurant
  • The Exit Zero Filling Station
  • Lucky Bones
  • The Rusty Nail
  • Saltwater Cafe at South Jersey Marina
  • Harry’s Bar & Grill (though they still serve condiments in plastic cups)
  • Fins Bar & Grille (offers paper straws at the bar, and biodegradable straws throughout the restaurant)
  • Harpoons on the Bay (offers both paper and compost straws—though we understand compostable straws may not break down in a marine environment, so dispose of them properly)
  • Hemingway’s Restaurant (upon request)
  • Fitzpatrick’s Crest Tavern in Wildwood Crest

These are the locations we’ve been able to check out on our trips around town, and we think it’s a positively wonderful culmination! We are thrilled to see the push in environmental care around our lovely and quaint Cape May.

Going beyond straws

It truly does make a difference when restaurants, shops, and stores get on board with a movement like this. Outside of Cape May, there are a few other shore towns cracking down on getting rid of single-use plastic. Brigantine, Avalon, and Stone Harbor are among the few now enforcing a strict plastic bag ban. The Press of Atlantic City states, “In Brigantine, the ban applies to grocery stores, restaurants, supermarkets, you name it. Avalon retailers will no longer be permitted to distribute plastic bags, straws or Styrofoam food containers. There is a fine of up to $200 for the first violation. The same rules will take effect in Stone Harbor, but disposable food-ware, including cutlery, containers and bowls, is also prohibited.”

Plastic bags aren’t banned in Cape May, but if you want to join this movement, opt for a reusable bag like Baggu, sold at Givens.

This trend isn’t limited to shops and restaurants. The newly opened Boarding House on Lafayette Street is also taking part in being eco-friendly. Among other things, when we attended their ribbon-cutting ceremony, we spotted these recycled pens in their main lobby. The cap and body of the pen are made completely out of recycled material.

Paper pens at Boarding House | Photo by Morgan Sacken

If you know of any other locations in Cape May or the surrounding areas that have made the switch from plastic to a more earth-friendly option, feel free to reach out and let us know! We’ll add them to the list.