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Staying Straw-sitive -- Lani Kai switches to more environment-friendly straws

June 9, 2016
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

After much controversy over the amount of litter primarily drinking straws found along the stretch of beach behind a local resort after the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend, the staff of the Lani Kai has been diligent to do its part to help the environment. Shortly after the issue went viral on social media late last week, the staff switched its entire lot of drinking straws where hundreds and thousands are dispersed day to those that are biodegradable and will break down, should they be left behind without proper disposal.

"Having the topic gain a lot of attention gave us the ability to instill a positive change and spread the word at the same time in order to start a trend of environmentally friendly practices on Fort Myers Beach," said Mike Ensor, for the resort. "The cost of the plant-based biodegradable straws is more expensive than regular straws, but the cost is far outweighed by the benefit to our beach and the natural wildlife that lives here."

Prior to offering this biodegradable item, Mike said the resort did its part to keep the area of beach around its perimeter clean, from the multiple trash receptacles set up throughout the property, as well as its morning beach-cleaning ritual. "We clean daily 365 [days a year] at the beginning of each day and throughout. Beach tractors pull industrial-sized rakes in order to reach both surface-level litter, as well as litter that becomes buried several inches under the surface of the sand. It's necessary to use heavy equipment in order to get the best possible results on a large amount of space. As thousands of guests drop litter along their way through the Lani Kai's property, others walk around, over and on top of it when not picked up immediately," he said. "We also have several trash cans across the beach so everyone has one that is easily accessible to throw out their trash. It's a constant effort, and educating the public on how to manage their trash is where our focus is shifting."

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So far, Mike said this one change has been fantastic, as "people have been raving about our positive change and the overwhelming support from the community is amazing. We appreciate all the feedback we have been getting from guests and plan to continue our push to make Fort Myers Beach the best it can be."

When you see that bright green straw in your drink, you'll know it won't be around forever. Mike said it takes about six months to fully break down, but before that, the color of the straw will help find them sooner, to be sure they're removed from the sand.

"Many restaurants and resorts look to the Lani Kai to set trends, as we are a legacy business on Fort Myers Beach. I believe this is only the start of a cooperative effort for residents, guests and businesses alike to help keep Fort Myers Beach clean," Mike said. "The effort of keeping the beach clean truly starts with our visitors and their effort to keep their own trash dispensed properly. Businesses on the beach need cooperation from the public in order to have the best possible outcome for the environment. Please pick up your trash when you are finished, and thank you for being here!"

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