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Ditching plastic straws is nothing new in Maine

It may be a new national conversation - but businesses in Maine are ahead of the curve on banning plastic straws.

KENNEBEC COUNTY (NEWS CENTER Maine) - It’s the center of a national conversation – should we ban plastic straws?

Starbucks is doing it, and other major chains are considering the eco-friendly move, too.

But months before the plastic tubes became the centerpiece of a national debate, they were already being ditched right here in Maine.

Four businesses in Kennebec County – the A1 Diner in Gardiner, Cushnoc Brewing and Circa 1885 in Augusta, and Easy Street Lounge in Hallowell – have ditched the straws for months.

The business owners say for the most part, the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Every single plastic bag and every single plastic straw that is ever been made is still on the planet,” said Cushnoc owner Casey Hynes. “That's scary. That's a daunting statistic. I think people are starting to realize that they don't have to be a part of that anymore.”

People like Leann Harding are starting to notice. She carries her own metal straw. “I order them online. I pretty much carry them everywhere I go,” she said. “Just because it's better for the environment.”

A1 Diner co-owner Neil Andersen says he doesn’t want the discussion around banning straws to become political. For himself and his co-owner, it was a personal decision. “For us, it's our decision to make and we will deal with the repercussions as far as business is concerned, plus or minus,” he said.

The A1 Diner has cut straws cold turkey, offering no alternatives. Cushnoc Brewing and the Easy Street Lounge offer biodegradable paper straws. Easy Street Lounge owner Bruce Mayo also keeps a stack of plastic straws on hand for anyone with disabilities who may need them.