Straw-less at Sababa

Now that summer temperatures have arrived, we’ve been happily spending more time in the sea. When it’s a calm day, you’ll find us at lagoona, our favorite swimming spot. But when Dahab’s wind is blowing, we head to the bay, where we always find a comfy spot at Sababa.

Sababa_No Straw

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, a fresh lemon juice is my refreshment of choice when I’m ordering from a cafeteria on the shore. Juice is always served with a plastic straw here in Dahab (sometimes two). I do not mind at all drinking my juice from the glass and, since I’ve started my less-plastic journey, I always ask waiters to not give me a straw. But even when asked in Arabic so there would be no misunderstanding, my juice often came served with a straw. Last year, I purchased some stainless steel straws. Not because I won’t drink without a straw but because I thought these reusable ones would make good props for when I am requesting my straw-less drinks. Having these reusable straws definitely helped and less plastic straws were wasted, but it was still no guarantee that the waiter would remember by the time he made it to the kitchen.

When it comes to getting my no-straw request filled, being a regular customer is the main thing that helps. So does walking yourself back to the kitchen with the stainless steel straws and giving them directly to a member of staff.  😉 That’s what Nadim did at Sababa after he realized he had forgotten the “no straw” request with our order of lemon juices. It only took a couple more “no straw” requests and now, when we order our juice, Mohamed checks with us that we have our reusable straws! He remembers before we can even ask. 🙂 Mohamed has even washed and returned my straw to me when I forgot to remove it from the empty glass. (Shokran, Mohamed!)

My advice to skip the plastic straw is easier said than done. But most of us have our favorite places that we return to often. So start there. Don’t get discouraged if your request is not fulfilled on the first, or second, or even third time. Make friends with one of the waiters and continue to politely make your request.

If you are an owner or manager of a restaurant, please consider not putting a straw into every drink. Wait until a customer specifically requests one and then bring them a straw. Or bring them a glass with their soda instead of a straw. Many customers will not miss sipping through this plastic!

Do you know of any cafeterias here in Dahab that don’t provide straws? Have you attempted a “no straw” request at a local restaurant? We’d love to hear about your experiences!

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle


REFUSE Plastic Straws!

reusable straw

There are lots of reasons to REFUSE plastic straws!

Did you know?

  • Most straws contain BPA, which is a harmful chemical that can affect brain and reproductive development. If fish and other marine animals ingest straws, those chemicals can also end up in our dinner!
  • Straws are not recyclable here in Dahab.
  • Like all plastics, straws photodegrade – they continue to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. They will always be on our planet.
  • Worldwide, straws are one of the Top 10 Most Commonly Found Items during beach clean-ups.

When I started on my journey to use less plastic, I admit straws were not high on my list of concerns. Mostly because we rarely eat at restaurants and when we do, I bring my own reusable water bottle. But occasionally I will join a friend for a drink at one of the many restaurants lining the shore here in Dahab. If that drink is tea or coffee, as it often is, no straw is necessary. That isn’t the case with my favorite order – fresh lemon juice, which I am quite happy to drink straight from a glass. I began to ask the waiters not to bring a straw with the juice, but it’s not always a successful strategy and I often end up with a straw anyway.

This happened one afternoon as I sat at a cafeteria with some friends and we began discussing whether or not we actually need a straw to enjoy our drinks of choice – sodas, juice, milkshakes, water. For me, the only drink I could think of that I would want a straw for was a milkshake, something that I haven’t even ordered for at least 5 years. One friend said only certain, more-pulpy juices called for a straw. Another said she likes straws when drinking sodas. I, of course, encouraged them to refuse the straws when they didn’t feel they needed them. Neither friend really pledged to follow through with this action, but at least we had discussed it. It was quite a serious conversation but somehow silly at the same time and I knew that at the first chance I got, I would buy them reusable straws!

Unfortunately, reusable straws are not available here in Egypt so I had to order them from America. I researched the many options – glass, stainless steel, bamboo – and was shocked by the varieties available! I finally decided on the simple stainless steel ones from Plastic Antidote, the official store of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. I asked a friend traveling from Germany to bring them in her suitcase for me. It’s been fun handing them out to several of my close friends, ones that I know will use them and engage others in conversations about them. It is my hope that if I can pull one of these straws from my bag when ordering a juice, the waiters will be more likely to understand my request to not bring me a plastic one.

Egypt produces a range of stainless steel products including dishes and cookware. We need to find a company willing to start producing reusable straws!

So until we have some available locally, please remember to ask your waiter to not give you a straw with your drink. Ask for a glass, if necessary, and drink straight from that.

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle