When Oakman Inns was founded 12 years ago by its CEO, Peter Borg-Neal, his vision was that he would not only create a highly-regarded, very successful business but that Oakman Inns would be a sustainable organisation that would contribute to its local community rather than exploit it.
Oakman, which runs The Crown and Thistle in Abingdon, The Old Post Office at Wallingford and the Blue Boar in Witney, is ditching plastic drinking straws this weekend.
As the company’s many awards and accolades testify, Oakman has consistently achieved those aims. However, over the years that vision has broadened to encompass a much more holistic approach to sustainability and the Oakman team always believes there is more to do.
Which is why Mr Borg-Neal and his colleagues are launching their own BAN THE STRAW campaign - #banthestraw - on Earth Day this Saturday April 22, declaring “we believe straws suck”.
The company currently uses over 100,000 plastic straws a month across its 17-strong group. While the company is highly-rated by The Sustainable Restaurant Association for its many green policies including plastic, glass and container recycling, the sheer number of straws consumed had begun to be a concern.
“Our monthly straw consumption sounds enormous, but compared to the estimated 500m straws that are used and discarded in the USA every day, it’s still a hugely dangerous and an everlasting drop in the ocean. And that is rather the point, “explains Peter. “It sounds ridiculous, but it is entirely accurate to say, that every plastic straw that was ever made, still exists today. They pollute landfills, rivers, roadsides, sewers, beaches and of course oceans and this relatively small amount that this pub group is taking out of circulation, needs to be repeated by every one of my colleagues across the hospitality industry.”
If customers ask for a straw, they will, of course, be offered an eco-friendly alternative, as Oakman is entirely sympathetic to their customers’ wishes.
Alex Ford, Oakman’s operations director, said; “From 2020, all plastic cutlery and plates will be banned in France. Bangladesh was the first country in the world in 2002 to ban plastic shopping bags and California banned single-use plastic bags in 2014. Yes, the UK has introduced a charge for plastic carrier bags and has banned microbeads, the tiny plastic balls used in cosmetics and cleaning products, but I believe we all have to do more. Because pretty soon, every fish we eat will have ingested some plastic and that will become a truly global environmental disaster that will probably be impossible to solve.”
Peter added: “At Oakman we try to live by our values every day, and we hope that those values and our commitment to sustainability means that everyone here is contributing to a better future for us all.”