We’re excited to hear the good news from Starbucks this week. Starbucks announced that it would phase out all single-use plastic straws from its 28,000+ stores worldwide by 2020, replacing them with specially designed, recyclable cold-cup lids. This commitment will keep more than one billion straws and 13,000 metric tons of plastic a year from ever having the chance to reach the ocean. Straws made of paper or alternative compostable materials will be available upon request.
Starbucks’ decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines, and we are grateful for Starbucks’ leadership in this space. While more needs to be done to prevent plastic from entering the ocean—including investing in waste management in countries that need it most—every year plastic straws figure among the top ten items collected by International Coastal Cleanup (Cleanup) volunteers around the world, so we hope other beverage providers follow Starbucks’ lead.
In fact, volunteers have picked up more than 9 million straws and stirrers from beaches and waterways over the 30+ year history of the Cleanup! And given that the average person uses 1.6 straws per day, it’s no wonder they’re among the top ten items collected every year during the Cleanup.
A disposable plastic straw is used on average for a whopping 20 minutes. It’s longer than the four-second lifespan of the plastic stirrer you may use to swizzle your coffee or tea, but 20 minutes is still just a tiny fraction of the several hundred years it could spend in a landfill—or on a beach, coastline or floating in the ocean.
When straws—and other plastic debris—make their way into our ocean, they pose a real danger to sea turtles, albatross, fish and other ocean wildlife. But, we can all help prevent ocean plastic, one straw at a time.
Skip the straw and add your voice to the sea of people taking a stand for the ocean. Sign the pledge now and when offered a straw, simply say “no thanks.”’ It is a small step that goes a long way for ocean health.