bamboo straws

How we avoided trashing more than 1.5 Million Plastic Straws

By not using plastic straws for the past five years at the Cayuga Collection Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we estimate that we have avoided trashing more than 1.5 Million plastic straws.  And this is just our hotels.  It does not take into consideration all the other hotels and restaurants in the country that were inspired by our initiative and got rid of their plastic straws as well.

lemonade with bamboo straw

A few years ago, Al Gore commented on them during his visit to Costa Rica exposing his work on clima change and promoting his “Inconvenient Truth”.  He insisted in taking some home with him.

bamboo straws
Bamboo straws during the production process on the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste near the Harmony Hotel, Nosara.

Hard to believe that we have been using “bamboo” straws at our hotels, resorts and ecolodges for over five years now. It all started with our frustration of not being able to recycle plastic straws and the fact they are a big factor in the pollution of our oceans and beaches.  How to make the food and beverage experience more sustainable?  And then Constantino Morales had a great idea.

Constantino, former gardener of Harmony

Constantino worked as a gardener at one of the Cayuga managed hotels, the Harmony Hotel in Nosara.  And once the issue of replacing the plastic straws was raised,  he remembered a particularly narrow bamboo that was growing on his father’s farm.  He wondered if he could use the bamboo instead of straws.

After various attempts he finally discovered the best way of producing his straws. The straws are hand made! They are sterilized in chlorine water, then in boiling water and then they are left out in the sun to dry. The final process is filing the ends of any unwanted splinters.  Constantino started with ten straws, introducing his idea to the team at Cayuga.  Obviously we loved the idea and went for it.  Today that number has grown to more than thirty thousand straws being purchased by various hotels every month.  He no longer works at our hotel is now a successful entrepreneur.

Tropical drink with bamboo straw

Using bamboo straws has a financial cost.  About 10 cents per straw.  Although, it costs us about $30,000 a year to provide this sustainability feature to our guests, we feel it is totally worth it and the right thing to do. Being sustainable does not always mean cost savings.  Sometimes it is an investment.  We offer the bamboo straws for purchase in our hotels gift shops.  Or you can get them online at Amazon for about 71 cents per unit (not ours, this is another company).

Help us get rid of plastic straws.  North Americans use about 500 million straws each day—about 1.6 per person—and these slippery little tubes of non-biodegradable plastic wreak havoc on the environment, slipping through the cracks of landfills and recycling processing plants to join the spiraling plastic garbage patches that choke our oceans and marine life.   If your cocktail recipes require straws, consider those made from bamboo—then compost them!

coconut water with bamboo straw
Many of our guests enjoy fresh coconut water served with the a bamboo straw. Unique and different like many of the Cayuga Collection Experiences in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Do you have any other ideas that would make us more sustainable?  Send us a note to [email protected] or comment on this blog post.  We would love to to hear from you.

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9 responses to “How we avoided trashing more than 1.5 Million Plastic Straws”

  1. Hola, I really love the bamboo straws and would like to get the local business’s here in Santa Teresa involved with this idea. I sure most will be interested. Please could you give me the contact details of Constantino Morales so i can start some inquiries . Many thanks Dave

  2. Hola, I really love the bamboo straws and would like to get the local business’s here in Santa Teresa involved with this idea. I sure most will be interested. Please could you give me the contact details of Constantino Morales so i can start some inquiries . Many thanks Dave

  3. Dear sirs
    II ha e been working with ancestral communities I the Guajira Peninsula. Due to lacK of government help, water, food, infrastructure, electricity they are dying one child or more a day. I have under my wing 700 artisans and their families and I have been dreaming of planting and making bamboo with them for their survival. It has been impossible to find help in this endeavor as no one wants to share their knowledge and help us. These communities want to work they want to be seen as a proud people and productive again. Can u please help us. Fundación Sirviendo Por Colombia.

    • We have forwarded your request to the management of the Harmony Hotel in Nosara. They will put you in touch with the person that helped us come up with the solution of no longer using plastic straws.

  4. Wow I am so impressed. I have recently started my own war on plastic straws. i would so love to be able to get these bamboo alternatives in South Africa. any ideas how i would be able to??

    • Dear Kari,
      great to hear from you all the way from South Africa. Thanks for joining in the war o plastic straws and bottles. I am not sure if the plant that we use here for our bamboo straws would grow in Africa. But maybe there is a similar plant that you could use. If we learn about something, we will let you know. Saludos.

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