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'Stop Sucking': Push To Replace Plastic Straws With Paper Ones

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It may be the last straw.

Some restaurants in New York City are jumping on the ban-the-plastic-straw bandwagon.

Patrons at Ted's Montana Grill in Manhattan are sipping on paper straws after the restaurant decided to ditch the plastic ones, opting instead for compostable straws or none at all, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported.

"It's about waste. A lot of times you go out, you see a server, and they're bringing out the straw. Us, we place it on the table and we allow the guest to make that choice," owner Elio Montas said.

The restaurant is part of a growing online movement called "Stop Sucking," singling out plastic straws for being bad for the planet.

Americans use 500 million of them each day, the National Park Service says. They wind up in landfills and oceans and are fatal for marine life, especially turtles.

"It's an ingestion issue. And as it does break down to smaller and smaller pieces, it works its way into the food chain and is absorbed by animals, including by the way humans," explained Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society New York Aquarium.

At the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, the Wildlife Conservation Society is launching a campaign to ban plastic straws, joining celebrities like "Entourage" actor Adrian Grenier, who started the movement "Strawless Ocean."

From coast-to-coast, a number of cities are slashing plastic straw use.

A massive online petition is pushing Starbucks to replace its plastic straws with paper ones. It has nearly one million signatures. Some people hope getting a big brand on board will help influence other companies.

"I use a lot of straws, but I never use paper ones," said one woman, adding she'd consider switching.

So what's the down side?

"Probably only to the manufacturer. But other than that, I would think the country and the world would be a lot better off without them," a man said.

Plastic straws are the standard people like. Most are purchased cheaply from China and, unfortunately, don't get recycled like water bottles.

So if paper replaces plastic, environmentalists hope it ignites a bigger conservation movement.

Some restaurants are now turning to stainless steel straws, even bamboo ones.

If you'd like to pledge to give up straws, you can do so by clicking here.

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