Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws & the Negative Impact of Straws on the Environment

starbucks kills the straw | starbucks to eliminate plastic straws

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.

Plastic Debris in Our Oceans
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.Β 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.

Sustainable Business Practices

Across the country, cities and towns are beginning to take measures to reduce plastic consumption. Some cities (like Seattle, Washington) areΒ banning the sale of plastic utensils. Other towns such as Concord, Massachusetts are banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. However, these changes have been occurring at the local municipal level.

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.”

New Starbucks Cup - No Straws
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.

Top Ocean Pollutants

Plastic Straw Alternatives

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:

*Images used in this post are not my own.

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Starbucks Eliminates Plastic Straws

Did you enjoy this post covering the plans for Starbucks to eliminate plastic straws? Check out this post on Sustainable Beauty Swaps or this post on Sustainable Beauty Solutions.

What do you think about the goal for Starbucks to eliminateΒ plastic straws by 2020? Do you think other businesses will catch on? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws & the Negative Impact of Straws on the Environment

  1. This is a very interesting post. I have heard both good and bad things about plastic straws. On the one had, I agree that sustainability and being good stewards of God’s creation is very important. However, on the other hand, I have heard members of the disability community state that using a paper straw or metal straw can be problematic if a person is in a wheel chair or has another type of disability that impairs their physical movement.

    For example, I have a friend with CP who is unable to hold a cup. She needs to drink from a straw in order to consume a beverage. She has tried metal straws but the metal becomes to hot for her sensitive mouth when she drinks coffee. She has tried paper straws, but she has trouble with them dissolving when she drinks. She has tried carrying her own plastic straws with her, but sometimes she forgets.

    I think that perhaps the best solution would be reducing our use of plastic straws (as you suggest) but for stores to keep a few plastic straws on hand for people with disabilities who might need them.

    Sorry for the long comment. I appreciated your well written and informative article! It really got me thinking πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for this thorough comment! ☺️

      I totally agree that those with disabilities have a much greater need for plastic straws!! So I agree that businesses should keep some on-hand to help those in need.

      I still struggle to bring my reusable straw around with me sometimes, but I’ve gotten better at asking servers in restaurants and whatnot not to give me straws with my drinks. I haven’t tried any glass or silicone straws yet, because I mainly use straws in iced drinks like coffee, but recognize that none of these solutions are ideal for those in need. Hopefully the sustainability movement can evolve to better consider and accommodate for those with disabilities.

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