Starbucks Is Eliminating Plastic Straws From All Stores

Starbucks has decided to do its part to quit clogging oceans and waterways with plastics by vowing to eliminate use of plastic straws by 2020. The plan will take about 1 billion straws out of circulation, Money reports. The transition requires moving from lids that hold straws to “sippy cup” lids. Some drinks, such as frappuccinos, will still come with straws, only they will be made from paper or compostable plastic.

This is a step in the right direction, even though it would be nice if Starbucks made it a goal to do away with ALL plastics, including the lids. While many people wonder what effect banning straws could possibly have on the mountains of plastic we throw away on this Earth every day, the truth is Americans alone use 500 million straws every day — and those straws are a major source of plastics pollution in oceans and coastlines.

Put another way, that’s equivalent to 175 billion straws per year, which is enough straws to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times per day. If you still can’t wrap your head around it, look up the viral video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up its bleeding nose, and think: Is that plastic straw in your drink really worth it?

Or try volunteering to help clean up a coastline, where hundreds of thousands of discarded straws are found annually. The bottom line is, if you think about it honestly, it will soon begin to sink in that every piece of plastic counts. Even one straw.

If you think you can justify your use of straws by throwing them in the recycling bin, think again. Most straws are not recyclable, and even if you toss them in the bin, they’re still destined for the landfill — or the ocean. This is just one of the many recycling mistakes that we make every day.

It’s worth noting that more than 80 percent of the plastic debris in the ocean starts off on land. Once in the ocean, it’s known that nearly 700 species (and probably many more) are negatively impacted by such debris. Sadly, at least 17 percent of impacted species are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as near threatened or worse, and at least 10 percent of the species had ingested microplastics.

For this reason, I urge you to embrace retailers’, restaurants’ and municipalities’ decisions as they move forward to ban plastics one step at a time. It’s for the best, and way past time to do it.
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