Loews Chicago Hotel joins Shedd Aquarium’s “Shedd The Straw” initiative to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws throughout the hotel. Loews Chicago Hotel is the first hotel to join the initiative aimed at reducing single-use plastic straws in order to reduce waste and improve marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Beginning August 1, beverages served throughout the hotel, including Streeterville Social, ETA Restaurant + Bar, The Lobby Bar, banquets, and in-room dining will not automatically be served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request.

The initiative is designed to help protect water systems and the animals that live in them by highlighting the dangers single-use plastic straws pose to aquatic life. Each year approximately 11 million pounds of plastic enters Lake Michigan alone – equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and plastic straws are one of the top ten plastic items that end up polluting our oceans, lakes, and rivers. “As part of our Good Neighbor Program, we are proud to partner with Shedd Aquarium on their ‘Shedd The Straw’ initiative to reduce waste and help protect aquatic ecosystems,” said Christian Hansen, managing director, Loews Chicago Hotel. “With our hotel located just blocks from Lake Michigan, we are excited to make this change that will help make a difference both near and far. We are honored to be the first hotel to partner with Shedd Aquarium to reduce our single-use plastic straws throughout our hotel, and hope we can help to continue the conversation on this topic to better our environment.”

Plastic straws do not biodegrade naturally in the environment and are nearly impossible to recycle. That means nearly every plastic straw ever used on the planet still exists, although they may have broken down into smaller pieces of plastic. By eliminating plastic straws, Loews Chicago Hotel expects to keep more than 155,000 plastic straws from being used per year. Because most straw-users trash their plastic straws when done, that means every straw saved will not end up in the trash, where they often escape trash receptacles and are flushed into our waterways. A biodegradable straw will be provided to guests, upon request, including to children and those with disabilities who may require a straw to eat or drink.

“We are excited to work with our partners at Loews Chicago Hotel to find innovative ways to reduce single-use plastics and commend them for helping us highlight how small changes like ‘Shedding the Straw’ can have a positive impact for the health of our lakes, rivers and oceans,” said Cheryl Mell, Senior Vice President, Conservation Partnerships. “Small actions can turn into big solutions, and we look forward to being a resource and working together to inspire action to reduce our plastic footprint.”

To launch this exciting partnership, join Loews Chicago Hotel and Shedd Aquarium for an evening to Shedd the Straw at Streeterville Social on Tuesday, August 21. Shedd Aquarium will have experts on-hand with special animal encounters. Food and drink will be available for purchase, and all proceeds from The Mermaid, Streeterville Social’s new specialty cocktail, will benefit Shedd Aquarium. Streeterville Social is open from 4-11 p.m., and the animal encounters will take place from 5-7 p.m. Additionally, for the month of August, a portion of proceeds from The Mermaid at Streeterville Social will benefit Shedd Aquarium. Attendees under 21, must be accompanied by a guardian or parent who is 21+ years old.

The Loews Hotels Good Neighbor Policy, the hospitality industry’s first comprehensive community outreach program, addresses issues ranging from hunger relief and literacy to green practices and the arts. Loews Hotels’ Good Neighbor Policy was awarded the President’s Service Award, the highest honor given by the President of the United States for community service directed at solving critical social problems.

#SheddTheStraw began last year on Earth Day, when Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium launched its campaign encouraging people to switch from single-use plastic straws to reusable or biodegradable alternatives.