Did you know that over 500,000,000 single-use, plastic straws are used in the U.S.A. every day? Although they offer drinkers convenience, plastic straws cannot be recycled properly due to their size and weight and are common pollutants found in the ocean and in landfills. Keep reading for to learn more about the environmental issues caused by straws and the pledge from Starbucks to eliminate plastic straws.
Impact of Plastic on the Environment
Plastic straws take over 200 years to fully “decompose,” but even then, plastic decomposition isn’t actually possible. Instead, plastic goods break down into small pieces, known as microplastics. Wildlife (and humans) eventually consume microplastics. These tiny particles are potentially carcinogenic and attract other water pollutants in open water.
Image sourced from VOX
Plastic consumption toxic. Plastics are responsible for large-scale bird and marine life death and suffering. Wildlife accidentally consumes, chokes on, or is strangled by discarded plastic waste. Over the years, there have been countless videos showing the impact straw solution is having on wildlife, particularly in the ocean.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video of a Sea Turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nostril. another known effect of plastics on marine life is that plastic toxins are contributing to destroying coral reefs.
Keep reading more for the goal for Starbucks to eliminate plastic straws by 2020.
Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws
Many major companies have yet to adopt more sustainable business practices. This past Monday, July 9th, Starbucks announced that it will be phasing out single-use plastic straws. Instead of using straws, the chain will introduce new lids across it’s 28,000 global stores by 2020. Some are dubbing the new cups “adult sippy cups.”
Source: Business Insider
Starbucks’ action will be good for combatting pollution. Also, the brand’s wide-sweeping change has the possibility to inspire other brands to follow suit. Moreover, this announcement is already spurring great conversation across the country about the use of plastics and the effect that plastics are having on the environment.
Plastic straws are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pollution in our oceans. See below for a graphic from a 2017 study by the Ocean Conservatory, which highlights the most commonly found ocean pollutants on coastal shores. In fact, there are portions of the ocean that are so polluted that those zones are virtually uninhabitable for marine life. Read here for more information on the Great Pacific Trash Vortex.
If reading all of the aforementioned facts about plastic pollution still isn’t enough of a deterrent for you to minimize your use of certain plastics such as straws, then the below are great options that will have a less negative impact on the environment: