Alaska Airlines is the latest big company to ditch plastic straws. Here’s why we all should, too.
The war on plastic straws is growing as more companies such as McDonald’s and cites such as New York are facing pressure to find sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives that won’t pollute our oceans, litter our beaches or wind up harming animals.
McDonald’s shareholders on Thursday rejected a proposal that asked the fast-food giant to report on the business risks of using plastic straws and look for alternatives.
Despite the rejection, the fast-food giant has begun experimenting with using paper straws in its U.K. restaurants and making plastic straws available only on request.
It is estimated that more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and thrown away every day in the U.S. alone as Americans use them at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day, according to the National Park Service. That translates into 175 billion straws a year.
It’s no wonder sea turtles are being found with plastic straws stuck up their noses.
Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, and “a staggering 32% of plastic packaging escapes collection systems,” according to a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum.
A study by the University of California Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) found that 8 million metric tons of plastic trash end up in our oceans every year. That’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.
And while plastic straws represent only a fraction of the overall tonnage of ocean plastic, they are less likely to make it into recycling bins, and their small size make them dangerous for marine animals and are consumed by fish.
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