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No More Straws: Starbucks and Other Companies Taking A Stand Against Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution rapidly threatens to ruin Earth's oceans and ecosystems.

This week, Starbucks announced that the company will be phasing out all plastic straws by 2020. According to Starbucks, the change will eliminate more than one billion straws per year. While there are many ways to go green including using reusable and bags at the store, refusing to use straws can make an impact. Many people around the country have started buying and carrying reusable straws to avoid using plastic straws at coffee shops and bars. But are corporate companies taking enough steps to limit their use of plastic?

Starbucks will be replacing plastic straws with plastic tops you can drink straight out of.

Yes, the cups do kind of look like a sippy cup. For Frappuccinos, they will hand out biodegradable paper straws. But the retailer says the use of these tops will prevent plastic pollution from straws ending up in the ocean. The decision comes after Seattle, Starbucks’ home city, banned single-use plastic straws and utensils. Why is plastic such a problem? According to a study from National Geographic in 2017, 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. A large amount of this plastic ends up in the ocean, harming the ecosystem and killing sea life, including turtles, fish and marine-based birds.

However, some are questioning if the move to eliminate straws is making a difference:

Other companies are taking similar steps to eliminate plastic use for environmental purposes.

American Airlines announced on Tuesday that it will eliminate plastic straws from both airplanes and airline lounges. The airline says, “with these changes, American will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds of plastic per year.” Hyatt Hotels is lowering their plastic distribution, starting in September guests will have to request single-use plastic straws. Royal Caribbean said last month that its 50 cruise ships will no longer carry plastic straws starting next year. Now, the question environmental-supporters are asking is, can these changes be enough to revert the environmental damager already done? And if not, what should next steps be?

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Also published on Medium.

Mariel Cariker is a recent graduate of Boston University, where she...