Kentucky Stops Sucking. Will You?

Will You Stop Sucking?

A couple years ago, I made an annoying decision. I decided to stop sucking. It was by no means an annoyance to me, but rather to servers– requesting no straw at restaurants. Sometimes the servers got it right, other times they got it wrong, and other times they brought me extra, thinking it was a funny joke, but I never laughed.

Will You Stop Sucking?

160+ straws collected from servers accidentally giving me straws after requesting, “no straw please.” My intention is to sculpt the straws to form “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”

But about a year ago, the “no straw experience” at restaurants began to change. Ever since the little sea turtle melted hearts of millions, as the world watched her experience the agonizing pain of a plastic straw pulled from her nose, the uselessness of the ubiquitous straw has spread.

Shuffling through Facebook and Instagram, thousands of personal and business threads are challenging individuals to ditch the straw. The trend has even made its way into Kentucky, and more rapidly than Mark Twain would have imagined.

Kentucky Joins Stop Sucking Movement

Minglewood Restaurant Stops Sucking

When Trish Tungate opened her new restaurant, Minglewood, in Lexington, Kentucky she made a conscious decision to ditch the straw.  “I knew this industry was THE major contributor and distributor of straws. I just couldn’t contribute to that kind of pollution or mindset – of out of sight, out of mind, out of existence. That’s why we cut them out all together. To change minds and habits. To start the conversation,” Trish said.

At first, she thought people would backlash. She also had concern that people would drink their beverages more slowly, but she found that neither of these issues occurred. “A few people have been a little testy about it, but the mass majority gets it,” Trish explained.

But Trish didn’t stop there. Trish is determined. “When you actually say that number, 500 million PER DAY, used in the US alone, no one can deny that that is a ridiculous amount and a travesty that we are responsible for.”

Minglewood Challenges Other Restaurants to Stop Sucking

As we rang in the New Year, Trish challenged her neighboring restaurants to participate in a straw-free January. Many neighbors joined in, and a couple even switched from Styrofoam to-go ware to cardboard to-go ware, for good! Other restaurants have continued to use straws, but have changed to paper straws.

These have all been tremendous improvements from business-as-usual, but Trish wanted more.  She wanted a bigger impact, on a bigger stage. Then she noticed that her favorite Kentucky Bourbon Distiller Maker’s Mark had progressive clean water initiatives and was taking steps at reducing plastic use.

Kentucky stops sucking

Maker’s Mark Stops Sucking

Last week, Trish announced major news that Kentucky Bourbon-maker, Maker’s Mark, would join her cause in big two ways.

Through the month of April (Mint Julep Month) Maker’s Mark will be offering free paper straws to all of their accounts, nationwide, who will join the plastic-free straw efforts. In addition, the straw manufacturer will extend a 50% discount through the end of 2018 for all restaurants who hop on board. Since their announcement last week, 24 Lexington restaurants have already joined the movement, making Lexington the most highly concentrated straw-free city in the Maker’s Mark challenge.

Restaurants (and bars) include: Minglewood, Dudley’s, Blue Heron, Muddy Duck, Al’s Bar, Azur, Brasabana, Cosmic Charlies, Belle’s Cocktail House, Bluegrass Tavern, Cole’s, Merrick Inn, Corta Lima, Honeywood, Claw Daddy’s, The Roxy/Quiet Please, Stagger Inn, McCarthy’s, Stella’s, Parlay Social, Creaux, Bar Ona, Dupree Catering and the one and only, Two Keys Tavern!

But wait, there’s more!

Maker’s Mark is also bringing this offer to an even bigger stage, by working with Keeneland Race Track to have a plastic straw free day on the Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes race day, on April 13th.

Keeneland Race Track likely uses over 1 million straws per major race day, and the Maker’s Mark Stakes is one of these major days. That’s a lot of straw savings! In addition, the (paper) straw was actually invented for the popular horse racing cocktail, the Mint Julep, so it is very fitting that the race track would ditch the straw for this movement.

I Challenge You to Stop Sucking

Now if these restaurants, Maker’s Mark and Keeneland can hop on board, so can you! I challenge you to join the movement and have a straw-free April! Stop sucking and request, “no straw please.”

And in the mean time, let’s raise our straw-free Maker’s Mark Mint Julep to Trish for her hard work and dedication to the cause!



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