It's Official - Even Disney Is Banning Straws
Disney is banning the use of straws at their theme parks and resorts worldwide
Unless you've been living under a rock, straws are the current environmental hot topic. Many companies and organizations, including Starbucks, have banned the use of straws. Now Disney is the latest brand to ditch straws in an attempt to be more green.
History of the straw ban
A 2015 environmental study found that plastic consumption worldwide came out to approximately 300 million tons of waste. That boils down to roughly 88 pounds of plastic waste per human each year. The packaging industry is still growing and flexible plastics (think plastic utensils and straws) are the most frequently purchased plastic worldwide.
Considering how many cups of iced beverages are purchased daily, combined with the purchase of takeout and delivery food, cutting back on the use of straws could potentially be the start of a global plastic paradigm shift.
The reason that straws have become such a hot topic, though, is a video that went viral in 2015 (the video can be watched below). The video shows a sea turtle who got a plastic straw stuck in its nose. It's heartbreaking to watch. Since then, the topic of straw use has trickled into the fabric of everyday conversation and most of it has been in regards to the desire of ridding the world of straws forever.
Companies that have banned straws
Starbucks announced in May that they were seeking to rid the company of plastic straws entirely by the year 2020. Instead of straws for iced beverages, they are opting to use lids with a "sippy cup" type of opening in order to drink the beverage. On top of that, these new lids are biodegradable.
Ikea is banning products like straws as well as plastic cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic plates and bowls. The home furnishing store has also been working to phase out oil based plastics and supporting plastics recycling plants in an attempt to make sure that all plastic material is being properly recycled and re-used by August of 2020.
Seaworld Entertainment has been a hot topic since news came out about how they were treating and handling their whales. Since then, Seaworld has been in the limelight and trying to improve their image. Their decision to opt out of the use of plastic straws to "save the sea animals" is definitely a good PR move on their part. Additionally, the brand has ceased to hold Orca Whales in captivity and have announced that the Orca Whales that are currently at Seaworld are the last ones that will ever be held there. They've also committed to a new partnership with the Humane Society to protect oceans and marine mammals.
Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott Hotels have all agreed to ban the use of plastic straws at their hotels and resorts. Hilton Hotels are also banning all plastic water bottles as well - making them the first hotel to ban bottles worldwide.
American and Alaska Airlines are banning plastic straws. Alaska Airlines recently partnered with the non-profit Lonely Whale. American Airlines anticipates to eliminate 71,000 pounds of plastic each year.
And now Disney has joined the ban(dwagon)
Disney announced on July 26th that they would be banning the use of plastic straws at all of their theme parks and resorts worldwide. The change is expected to be completed by June 2019 (giving themselves just a little bit less than a year). Disney has estimated that this ban will eliminate approximately 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually - if not more!
For a complete list of companies that are making the plastic free switch, check out this article by Time.
Will this make a difference in plastic waste?
At the end of the day, banning straws is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plastic pollution and waste. However, the banning of straws has definitely opened the door to conversations about making the world more sustainable as a whole. Hopefully, this will create a snowball effect of environmental mindfulness across the world and within the next 25 to 50 years plastic waste will be a thing of the past.
What are your thoughts on the straw ban? Let us know in the comments section below.
For more environmental hot topics and news, be sure to subscribe to The Sitch.