Last month, 26 restaurants along Wellington’s waterfront made the collective decision to stop using plastic straws – abandoning straws entirely or using alternatives. However, this move has had its downsides with patrons taking home reusable metal straws, much to the frustration of owners and managers.

“It’s hard because on one side you’re getting people who are taking these straws but they’ll be using them elsewhere,” said Shake milk bar owner Ashton Christie, who lost around 20 straws over the recent school holidays. “They won’t be using their plastic straws at home or other businesses, but they’re not paying for them. So we’re in two minds about it but at the end of the day we lose out. We find it so bizarre because where do you go in a dining experience where the cutlery is included in the meal?”

Melissa Lind, manager of Charley Noble, was more philosophical about the light-fingered patrons.

“As it is a decision that we’ve made as a restaurant to turn to metal straws it’s just like glassware, when it’s smashed we’ve got to replace it.”

Wellington City Council sustainability leader Iona Pannett said it was disappointing that straws were being stolen but there were other alternatives to reusable straws, and that straws should be used only as a medical necessity.

“You can drink milkshakes without a straw, you can use a spoon. I just think this is one of the plastic uses which is pretty easy to replace.”