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Lucky's Sports Tavern is one of a few bars in Athens that are no longer serving drinks with straws due to environmental and cost concerns.

Some Athens bars are ditching straws. Here’s why they're making the switch

There wasn’t a straw in sight at The J Bar on 41 N. Court St.

A few bars on Court Street decided to stop giving straws to customers when they order drinks as a part of the Refuse the Straw movement. The movement is aimed at limiting waste and cleaning up the ocean. 


Courtney Smith, a bartender at J Bar, said the bar started to follow the movement about three weeks ago. 

“It’s about the sea turtles and how the straws are going into the ocean,” Smith, a junior studying strategic communication, said.

Zack Stamper, a bartender at Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 N. Court St., believes the movement is a good way to help clean up the environment.

“I like it because one, it’s helping the environment and two, it’s cleaner in a way,” Stamper, a senior studying child and family studies, said. “We aren’t touching people’s straws, and people aren’t touching a bunch of straws when they reach to grab one.”

Plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose in the environment; once plastic is in the water, it never truly decomposes. Plastic instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over the years. 

Americans use 500 million straws a day, according to the National Park Service, and all of those straws pile up over time. Instead of contributing to that number, Lucky’s is encouraging people to bring their own reusable straws. 

“Some of our regulars have been bringing in reusable straws like the metal ones,” Stamper said. “I thought it was pretty cool that people are on board with it.”

Not all bargoers are happy about the new changes at their favored bars. Some people become annoyed when their drink doesn’t come with a straw, Smith said. 

“People do get annoyed when we don’t give them straws, but cleanup at the end of the night is so much easier,” Smith said. 

No one has gotten too annoyed with the straws being taken away from their holders at Lucky’s, though, Stamper said.

“People who are in here often don’t seem to mind not having a straw,” Stamper said.

Both Smith and Stamper said cleaning up at the bars they work at takes much less time and is easier without the straws. 

“It just helps the bar be more clean overall,” Stamper said. 

Straws can cause much more of a mess than they are worth, and they can get in the way for those trying to clean up, Smith said. 

“Straws can catch on a bottle while cleaning up, and it will spill stuff everywhere,” Smith said.

Michaela Murdocco, a bartender at Stephen’s Restaurant and Bar, 66 N. Court St., said the bar still offers straws when it is serving food during happy hour.

“I personally prefer straws,” Murdocco said. 

The Over Hang, 63 N. Court St., has not ditched straws because the bar normally uses glass cups.

“We also use glass cups, and using a straw stops people from putting their mouth on it if there’s a chip,” Sarah O’Neal, a bartender at The Over Hang, said. 

O’Neal is on board with the Refuse the Straw movement, despite her workplace not getting rid of straws.

“It cuts costs and helps a good cause,” O’Neal said. “In college towns, straws aren’t important.”

Getting rid of straws did not affect how drinks are made, Smith said; the bartenders simply use an extra cup to mix drinks. 

Straws are available at Lucky’s but only on request. Most of the people who request straws use them only for liquor pitchers as opposed to regular drinks, Stamper said. 

“Saving the sea turtles one straw at a time,” Stamper said. 


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