You might not think twice about the plastic straw you use to sip your favorite beverage, but one company is now putting a lot of thought into it – Starbucks.
The global coffee chain has announced that it will immediately begin phasing out drinking straws from its 28,000 stores. They will be eliminated almost entirely by 2020, which is a big contrast to the one billion straws the company uses every year (Tarantola, 2018).
Although one billion might sound small in the grand scheme of all things Starbucks, analysts say that this move can have a large positive impact on the environment. According to a previous study, humans generate 35 million tons of plastic pollution each year. About 2,000 tons of it is made up of discarded straws.
But is 2,000 tons really a lot?
“Banning straws is about as important as spitting in the wind,” says psychologist Robert Gifford (Osaka, 2018).
However, Starbucks’ action has a “foot in the door” benefit, according to Gifford, and that’s where it counts.
“A lot of social psychology research says that if you get people to say yes to a small request, they are more likely to accede to more serious requests,” Gifford continues.
You might already be on Starbucks’ bandwagon if you recycle plastic, but are you doing it appropriately? Sorting through what can and can’t be recycled is essential, so here are a few tips when it comes to plastic (“The Ultimate 9 Quick Tips to Recycle More Plastics,” 2018).
First, keep in mind that recyclers want your plastic bottle caps and lids. Twisting them back on before you recycle your plastic can make it easier for recyclers.
Next, don’t rule out recycling plastic containers – recycling plastic isn’t just about the bottles! You can recycle containers for items ranging from yogurt to sour cream.
Finally, hold onto your plastic bags and wraps unless your local recycling program explicitly asks for them. These items should not be placed in your bin, but rather taken back to retailers for recycling. For more information on recycling these types of plastic, you can visit plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Tarantola, Andrew. “Starbucks’ straw ban is a big win for the Earth’s oceans.” Engadget. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.engadget.com/2018/07/11/starbucks-straw-ban-win-for-earths-oceans/
Osaka, Shannon. “Is Seattle’s straw ban a green gateway drug or just peak slactivism?” Grist. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://grist.org/article/is-seattles-straw-ban-a-green-gateway-drug-or-just-peak-slactivism/
“The Ultimate 9 Quick Tips to Recycle More Plastics.” Plastics Make It Possible. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com/plastics-recycling/how-to-recycle/recycle-more-plastics-these-tips-help-make-it-easy/