Our environment is in trouble. We see and hear evidence of it every day. The great barrier reef is dying, having lost half of its coral in the past two years. The world’s glaciers are melting, and there are 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage in the world with nowhere to go. It’s a global crisis, but we’re starting to fight back, most recently with the plastic straws ban.
Frankly, plastic straws are dangerous and wasteful. Due to their small size and light weight, they most often miss getting recycled and end up in landfills and in our oceans. That’s when things get really bad. An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
Plastic straws are incredibly hazardous to wildlife. They are easily mistaken for food and too often lead to suffocation and death. In one instance, a penguin’s stomach was perforated by a plastic straw, and in another, a plastic straw was removed from a sea turtle’s nostril. This is a severe problem considering that more than 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the U.S.
If we don’t act now, by 2050, it’s estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The good news is that some companies are starting to act now. Recently Starbucks, the Walt Disney Company, and other organizations have begun a plastic straws ban.
On July 26, the Walt Disney Company announced that it would eliminate single-use plastic straws from all of its locations by mid-2019. They called it part of their “journey of environmental stewardship” and it’s definitely only the beginning. Disney also plans to reduce all of its plastic products in its hotels, cruise ships, and parks. Soon, you’ll be seeing fewer plastic shopping bags, Styrofoam cups, and more.
Starbucks made a similar announcement earlier this year. The company stated that no longer will their iced drinks come with a single-use straw. Instead, its cold drinks will now come with a new lid that’s similar to an “adult sippy cup.” Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see these new lids, but the plan is to roll out the new lids throughout the U.S. and Canada next year and globally soon after that. With just these few changes, Starbucks could eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year.
But it’s not just companies that have come to understand the need for a plastic straws ban. On July 1, Seattle became the first city in the U.S. to completely get rid of plastic straws. You won’t find them in restaurants, fast food joints, or anywhere else in the city. And New York plans to join Seattle by 2020 with a similar plastic straws ban.
Then, there are all the celebrities who have jumped onto the “no straws” bandwagon. On Twitter, #StopSucking became a trending hashtag with everyone from Chelsea Clinton to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Russel Crowe, Tom Felton, Sonam Kapoor, and Tom Brady pledging to avoid plastic straws moving forward.
The changes might seem small for now, but they’ll add up moving forward. Used for only a few minutes, plastic straws stay around for centuries clogging up our environment. Without these efforts, in the U.S. there would be enough plastic straw waste each day to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times.
So, how can you help fight back and join the plastic straws ban?
- At restaurants, request to not have a straw placed in your drink. And at fast food restaurants, instead of sticking a straw in your soda, drink straight from the cup or transfer your drink to your own cold-insulating tumbler.
- If you do happen to receive a straw, be careful about recycling. Make sure it ends up in the right bin.
- If you need a straw to drink for medical reasons or because you prefer it, consider carrying your own reusable straw with you when you leave the house. For example, you could take our Starbucks Exclusive mug and straw with you wherever you go.
The plastic straws ban is a great step in the right direction. Join us in being part of the solution instead of the problem.