Other than their mermaid logo on every cup, what’s the other symbol that sticks out everytime you buy a drink from Starbucks®? How about the green plastic straw? You may have heard how the coffee giant is planning to phase out single-use straws from all of their 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020, joining the ongoing effort to reduce global plastic pollution. That alone cuts out an estimated 1 billion plastic straws a year!
Other major corporations have jumped on the bandwagon of course—Disney, SeaWorld, Marriott and Hyatt hotels, American and Alaska airlines, etc.. All have pledged to stop the use of plastic straws to support the latest environmental cause. Manufacturers will soon stop producing them too, to keep up with the times, and begin to replace them with thicker quality paper straws or reusabe plastic, glass or metal ones. Hopefully these will be better than the flimsy wax paper ones I grew up on!
This is a good thing, of course; we live near the beach and my daughter goes there a lot during summer vacation. I don’t want to see any more pictures of tortoises with straws stuck in their nostrils, or seals choking on soda can rings or plastic grocery bags floating like jellyfish in the water.
Ever since California and numerous other states got rid of the thin, one-time use plastic bags and started charging 10 cents for the thicker, reusable ones, more and more people are beginning to remember to bring the bags to the store or not even buy one. I keep a canvas one in my trunk and try to remember to use it—but when I forget, I shell out the dime for another bag if I really need it. The difference is that I’ll make the effort to stuff everything in that one bag, instead of getting multiple bags from the grocer or double bagging for heavier items like I used to. The Surfrider Foundation, an organization devoted to saving our oceans, reports that they aren’t seeing the thicker bags during their beach cleanups, so it’s possible everyone’s behavior is slowly changing.
At our house we’ve stopped buying water from disposable bottles—it’s a small thing, but every little bit helps, right? In spite of the vast amount of water bottles that are recycled in the U.S. every year, only 23 percent of the 50 billion bottles that we consumed were recycled. That means over 38 billion found their way into our landfills, and yeah—onto our beaches.
Personally, I don’t think enough is said about the environmental benefits of the Zojirushi drink bottles, and I’m not just saying that because I write for the company. Most of the members at the gym that I go to are younger, and they care about waste. I don’t see many (if any) plastic water bottles anymore. Everyone carries a reusable drink bottle—and if you think about it, Zojirushi has been making their insulated mugs and bottles way long before it became Green and fashionable to carry around. They were definitely ahead of their time! My daughter brings hers to the beach all the time. I think she likes how some of them are smaller and lighter and easy to take along.
Not surprisingly though, not everyone is happy with the plastic straw ban. What are the folks who run the Bubble Tea shops supposed to do? Someone is going to have to come up with an ingenious solution to be able to slurp the boba from the cup without a trusty boba straw! Starbucks® has revealed that their cold drink lids will have larger openings like sippy cups, in order to drink without straws. But you cannot do that with boba! And without that pointy end, how can we pierce the lid seal on our cups? Paper straws can’t do the job! My guess is that as long as these drinks are still popular, we’ll all adapt.
(If you don’t know what boba is, Google it, or step into a tea shop and try one. You don’t know what you’re missing.)