ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Those drinks we enjoy at bars or restaurants often come with a straw. If they’re plastic and disposable, environmentalists say they can create a big problem. It’s a problem that one Rochester bar owner is trying to solve — by opening another business.
A person walks into a bar. Orders a drink. At Lux Lounge in Rochester, owner Karrie Laughton makes sure everything is top-notch.
“I love the bar business,” said Laughton, who opened Lux 20 years ago. “As soon as I got a taste of the bar business I was like, ‘uh-oh. I have the bug.’”
To help the environment, Lux only uses paper drink straws. Problem is, there are a lot of bad paper straws out there. And the good ones are hard to keep in stock.
“So that's when I was like OK, there's going to be solution to this,” said Laughton. “And my solution was to make my own.”
It’s not often that a business owner creates an entirely new business to solve a problem. But that’s exactly what Laughton — and her mom — did.
“I thought, ‘how hard can it be to make a paper straw?’” said Karrie Laughton.
“So one day she called me up and said, ‘mom, we're going to make paper straws,’” said Kathryn Laughton. “And I said, ‘you’ve got to be kidding.’”
“As I started the process, it put the wheels in motion and I reached out to my mother. I said, ‘hey, I have this crazy idea,’” said Karrie. “’Let’s start making paper straws. Let’s start helping to save the planet.’”
That’s how Roc Paper Straws came to be. The problem with many paper straws is they get soggy and fall apart. Now, in a Rochester factory they’re making straws that they stand by. Paper straws, which stand up to the test.
“Now we’re at the point where we are making a really, really good straw,” said Karrie Laughton.
Roc Paper Straws is one of just a handful of companies in the U.S. which make paper straws. The straws are not the only environmentally-friendly part of the business. All of the materials the company uses to make them are biodegradable.
“Obviously we’re making the perfect straw,” said Kathryn. “Because nobody’s complaining about them.”
Starting a business can be hard. Doing it with family, even more so. But — so far, so good.
“I couldn't imagine working with anyone else,” said Karrie. “I love working with my mom, every single day.”
“It’s been absolutely wonderful,” added Kathryn. “We do laugh a lot. We do bicker once in a while. I just have to remember she's the boss and everything's perfect.”
Person walks into a bar. Orders a drink. Asks for a straw. The Laughton’s put money on it — that you won’t be disappointed.
“Hopefully everyone will try them,” said Karrie. “And be like, ‘oh, paper straws don't have to suck.’”