July 20, 2018
Rossilynne Culgan

More than a dozen local restaurants are trying to collect a million drinking straws through early fall so an artist can turn the ubiquitous plastic tubes into a public sculpture in Pittsburgh.

“We just really saw this opportunity especially with all of the attention that’s being put toward plastic straws to create this pilot project to amplify the importance of reducing single-use straw waste,” Rebecca Bykoski, program manager of Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, said about the Straw Forward initiative, which launched a few weeks ago.

Sustainable Pittsburgh provided participating restaurants with signage, talking points, and receptacles to collect the straws. In some cases, staff will collect the straws in the dish station, and at more casual restaurants, customers may drop the straws into the receptacle themselves, as the initiative is meant to engage both restaurant employees and customers.

Any kind of straw can be collected, from larger bubble tea straws to conventional fast food straws. They’ll be cleaned and sanitized before they become an artist’s medium.

“The more variety of straws, the more interesting the art will be,” Bykoski said.

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