Paula's Public House, a "gastropub" on New Hackensack Road in Poughkeepsie, has made sweeping changes in their business practice in an effort to reduce the amount of garbage generated by plastic containers, straws and bags.

According to Paula Eva Young, owner of the restaurant, the switch to more "earth-friendly" products costs more but Young said reducing potential litter outweighed the costs. Young said when she was a child, commercials starring a weeping Native American and Smokey the Bear put litter and awareness at the forefront compared to now when she feels like "we are drowning in a sea of plastic."

Young stopped using plastic takeout containers about six months ago when she switched to waxed cardboard containers and plastic bags were replaced with paper shopping bags. An even more noticeable change occurred a few months ago when the plastic drinking straws were replaced with waxed paper straws.  The first batch of straws cost her seventeen cents each. Young said she did not want to raise the drink prices and has since found the "litter-reducing" straws for ten cents apiece.

The self-proclaimed litter fighting restaurateur recently visited Cape Cod where she discovered that there is a complete ban on plastic straws.

"It made me feel good to be ahead of the curve here in the Hudson Valley," Young said. "Change begins with us, and maybe it costs a bit more but I'm happy with my choice."