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The Plastics Problem: Why Straws are the First to Go

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Major companies are doing away with plastic straws to combat pollution.  


According to market research firms, at least 170 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone¹, and many of them are now trash on the world’s beaches. In fact, a 2017 study² estimates that 8.3 billion of them are littering our shores. By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight³.  


Straws are small potatoes, comprising just 0.025% of the eight million tons of plastic that end up in oceans every year. So why have they been the focus of recent environmental campaigns? For the most part, it’s because we can do without them. Getting rid of plastic straws heightens our awareness of the wastefulness of single-use plastics. Straw bans begin to chip away at our enormous reliance on plastics overall.  


And the grassroots efforts to ban them have made a real difference, as major companies have jumped on board 


  • Starbucks plans to phase plastic straws out by 2020 entirely. 
  • McDonald’s has replaced plastic straws with paper ones in all UK and Ireland restaurants. 
  • American Airlines and Alaska Air are also making the switch.  

SAGE is doing our part, too. Beginning this fall, we’re eliminating plastic straws and stirrers in all venues we serve. We’ve heard from our community members about their concerns, and we’re now sourcing only eco-friendly alternatives. Although our impact may not be as significant as Starbucks’, it does add up: for the last complete school year, we used about 811,000 plastic straws, which equals about 1,000 pounds of plastic waste.  


Eliminating plastic straws is just one of the many ways we promote sustainable dining. From harvesting campus gardens to saving cooking oil for biofuel, we partner with our communities to have a positive impact on both people and the planet. Take a look at our sustainability brochure for more information about our commitment to the environment.   


For more information about plastics, go to plasticpollutioncoalition.org.  


Sources:  

https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/news-plastic-drinking-straw-history-ban/ 

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44492352 

http://fortune.com/2018/07/11/ditching-plastic-straws-replacements/ 

Footnotes:  

¹ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/business/plastic-straws-ban-fact-check-nyt.html 

²https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full 

³ https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics-catalysing-action 

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