Plastic straws have been the target of many environmentalist’s attacks recently, as they serve very little purpose, and can only be used once before being disposed. Companies and cities have been responding to consumer complaints by banning the use of single use plastic products, and providing a more environmentally conscious option.
This Monday, Starbucks announced it’s decision to eliminate the use of plastic straws throughout their thousands of stores worldwide by the year 2020. This decision mimics that of other companies and cities all over the U.S. and internationally.
Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks said, “For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” in a statement.
Starbucks’ change follows the ban of plastic straws, spoons, forks, and knives, in Seattle, where their headquarters are located, which will be in effect starting July 1st of this year.
However, Seattle is not the first city to implement this kind of ban. As of June 1st, 2018, the city of Malibu banned the use, distribution, and sale of all one time use plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery items.
City policies like these are important first strides in the reduction of plastic usage in our country. In America alone, over 500 million plastic straws are used in a single day, according to Be Straw Free. Movements like the Starbucks campaign will hopefully help to put an end to the disposal of such large amounts of plastic on a daily basis.
Starbucks is one of many companies to put an end to the usage of plastic straws. On the same day Starbucks announced their straw free initiative, Hyatt Hotels also announced their shift away from plastic straws.
Hyatt claims that by September 1st of this year, plastic straws will only be distributed upon request, and more eco-friendly alternatives will be provided.
In response to consumer complaints and petitions, McDonalds will also be removing the controversial plastic straws from their locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are approximately 1.8 million straws used in McDonald’s restaurants each day in the U.K.
McDonalds will switch to using paper straws at their locations in the U.K. and Ireland after a petition with nearly half a million signatures was drafted to the company.
Plastic straws aren’t the only environmental hazard to be getting banned- recently, certain counties have been taxing plastic shopping bags.
In Suffolk County, Long Island, a five cent tax on plastic shopping bags has been placed in many stores, so whenever customers leave a store using a plastic shopping bag, they will be charged an additional five cents per bag.
This tax has inspired a lot of customers to bring their own recyclable bags to stores, which greatly decreases the amount of plastic bags used.
While the greater impact of these bans and taxations is yet to be determined, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for reducing the amount of pollution and trash in our world.