Going Strawless in the City... and Beyond
In celebration of the IamStrawless movement, we asked a series of questions to Arian Lurie to learn more about how the organization is inspiring change, especially in the hospitality and tourism industries, in Amsterdam and beyond to skip the straw and choose a more eco-friendly alternative.
What is IamStrawless ?
IamStrawless is a nationwide (becoming global), campaign set to massively reduce the use of plastic straws. Not because plastic straws are the biggest problem within the plastic soup (I like to call it a drop in an ocean of plastic), but because plastic straws are a symbol. They symbolize our addiction to plastics, but also how easy it is to cut down the use of plastics in our day to day lives.
We are focusing our campaign on the hospitality industry for a few main reasons; the hospitality industry is a producer of insane amounts of waste, most of it being single-use plastics, the industry affects everyone, by encouraging and educating the industry to change its ways we automatically educate consumers to do the same. Choose wisely where you drink or eat and what.
Today IamStrawless has a team of 10 amazing girls, all volunteer based, each taking on different assignments within her abilities, along with our main partners supporting the campaign from the beginning - Plastic Soup Foundation & Typhoon Hospitality.
How has the movement manifested ?
IamStrawless was conceived on Feb 1st 2018 by two partners - Arian Lurie & Suzan wessels, with a crazy idea and a lot of love for our planet.
Arian is a veteran in the hospitality industry (15 years and counting) and Suzan is a marketing ninja. As very good friends, we decided to partner up to develop our own business (very different one than what we are doing now…), as Arian moved back to Amsterdam in December she picked up a few shifts in Bar Feijoa, and noticed a growing movement, mostly coming from the bartenders in the city, of cutting down the use of plastic straws.
After doing some research and taking a CSR course from Phoenix University, being inspired by other worldwide campaigns, she came up with the idea to encourage Amsterdam to become a plastic straw free city and promoting a law that will ban the use of it by 2019.
Why did you decide to come up this this initiative ?
We decided to start this initiative for two main reasons; our love and care for this planet we live on, and our love to the hospitality industry.
Our planet is in an environmental crisis for many years, and when we saw that we have an opportunity to create a change for the hope of a better future there was no doubt that we are going to take it.
Our focus on the industry comes from knowing it and the people who are a part of it. This industry is full of passionate, caring, creative individuals that make the hospitality industry so amazing. There is so much good coming out of this industry, but unfortunately, most of it stays within the industry. Our goal is to encourage the industry to become leaders in a new way of business conduct focusing on sustainability and community.
What has been your biggest challenge so far ?
Our biggest challenge so far is raising awareness and reaching venues on a massive scale. We are a small team with an even smaller budget, which causes some setbacks and limits our activities size.
Another big challenge we are facing now is biodegradable products (mainly straws) which is being promoted as the best alternative without being explained fully to venues or consumers.
How is this important to Sustainable Tourism and Sea Going Green's mission ?
The hospitality industry and tourism industry go hand in hand.
With over 17 million visitors and 5,5 million tourists in the Netherlands alone every year, all going through this kind of hospitality venue or another, creating a massive collaborative campaign will create a global ripple effect, placing the initiating partners and the Netherlands as an example that has the potential to be communicated in every country in the world. By promoting a massive reduction of plastic straws both within the hospitality and tourism industries, we can promote an even bigger wave of awareness and influence a behavioral change.