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Plastic Straws Being Removed From Restaurants, Cruise Ships and Airlines

Updated on June 17, 2018
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher and online writer. She loves to share her teachings online.

The world is slowly becoming one without plastic straws, and one of the nation's most popular fast-food restaurant is leading the way. On June 15, the food chain announced plastic straws in its establishments are been banned in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The process begins in September in the countries' 1,3621 locations. McDonald's projects all plastic straws will be removed in the restaurants in 2019 in those two countries.

The fast-food chain also announced the company will begin replacing plastic straws in the United States and some other countries later this year. By 2025, there will not be a plastic straw in any of McDonald's 37,000 locations in over 100 countries.

McDonald's distributes about 95 million single-use straws around the world every day.

Other Companies Banning Plastic Straws

About 23 million straws are used and discarded daily in the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth is on board with the ban and has forbidden the use of plastic straws and other one-use plastic items from all of her palaces.

Cruise lines are banning plastic straws. Royal Carribean will phrase out its plastic straws by the end of 2018. Some airlines are doing the same. Alaska Airline will start in July to get rid of the straws they normally use. Major companies are doing the same for meetings in their executive boardrooms.

Plastic straws account for a significant amount of unrecycled plastic waste and contribute to ocean deterioration. People normally use a plastic straw once and discard it. This causes ocean pollution. That's why a great number of companies are getting rid of the straw they are currently using and switching to paper straws.

People might not think that a small item such as a plastic straw could cause so much damage. Maybe one straw wouldn't be as harmful, but think about how much damage millions of them will do. The straws account for a great amount of unrecycled plastic waste. Campaigns started back in 2010 for companies to begin the process of switching to paper straws.

This is a plastic straw.
This is a plastic straw.

Reasons to Get Rid of Plastic Straws

Ireland and the United Kingdom are the first to test the ban, but other countries won't be far behind for this important endeavor.

Plastic causes much harm to marine life because of the high degree of ocean pollution. Plastic items don't easily biodegrade like paper. Therefore, plastic straws along with plastic beverage stirrers and plastic bags will be banned.

It is not the usage of plastic straws that is causing a problem. It is how they are discarded. Because of littering and overfilled trash cans, plastic is making its way to the ocean. This harms marine wildlife.

In 2010, researchers proved how dangerous plastic can be to marine life when they reported what they found inside a dead gray whale stranded on a West Seattle beach. The creature had duct tape, a golf ball, surgical gloves, sweatpants, a golf ball, more than 20 plastic bags, and other plastic items left undigested in its stomach. Unless something is done about this unfortunate situation, the researchers estimate that oceans will have more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Number of Straws Used in the United States

It has been estimated that about 500 million straws are used in the United States every single day. That means that on an average, each person uses about 1.6 straws per capita per day. That adds up to about 175 billion straws a year.

You might say that's not true because you don't use any straws. You might not use any part of that number but think of the people who use more than that number to come up with the average.

You might not use a long plastic straw, but you might use a plastic coffee stirrer. That also adds to the ocean pollution when you discard it.

These are paper straws.
These are paper straws.

Paper Straws

It has been determined that paper straws are better than plastic straws. Besides, people can drink beverages from cups without using any straw at all.

Paper straws will not be given automatically with a beverage order. However, they can be requested. Neither will paper straws be on counters for customers to grab one or two as they have done in the past.

Differences Between Plastic and Paper Straws

You cannot tell the difference between a plastic straw and a paper one just from the photos in this article. However, they are quite different.

Plastic straws are not biodegradable, but paper straws are. That means that it takes over 500 years for one plastic straw to fully decompose while it leaks plastic chemicals into the environment. On the other hand, the biodegradable paper straw can break down in about 180 days. Paper straws are cheaper to purchase from your local grocery store.

These are paper straws.
These are paper straws.

Which do you use?

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Comments

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      RTalloni, your comments about plastic and paper straws are good ones. Thank you for sharing.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      From The Heart, thanks for your comment about plastic straws.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      3 months ago from the short journey

      Though there may be some health settings requiring the use of plastic straws, the move to use paper straws would be my choice even if plastic ones were not pollutants. I prefer paper ones for some reason, though I detest paper plates. Since plastic straws are not recycled it only makes sense to replace them with paper.

    • profile image

      Shizette 

      3 months ago

      I think this is great initiative! The world does not need any more plastic ending up in the oceans and in our water supply!

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Elena, yes, it is good to get rid of plastic straws and replace them with paper straws. We will see how that will work out. Hopefully, it'll be good for the environment, especially for marine life.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      3 months ago from London, UK

      It's good that companies are now making an effort and getting rid of plastic straws. Every little helps.

      Nice that you are raising awareness too.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Dred Cuan, it is great that you will support the campaign to get rid of plastic straws. The country needs more people like you.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Peggy, yes, companies are taking the steps in the right direction when it comes to drinking straws. I had no idea such a little thing was causing so many problems. I also had no idea that it would take so long to remove them from restaurants.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I am really glad to know that some major companies are taking the lead on this. Paper is a much better alternative for people who wish to use straws. As you pointed out in your comment, trees are a renewable resource when they are managed correctly.

      Stepped up recycling efforts would also help the situation of ocean pollution. I am amazed at the number of people who do not recycle items. Some of them are our neighbors even though our garbage pickup company provides recycle bins and picks things up curbside once a week.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Louise, thanks for commenting about plastic straws being removed from restaurants, cruise ships, hotels, and airlines.

      Readmikenow, you are right. When one problem is solved, another one is created. I have seen glasses with straws built in them. That just might be the way to go.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 

      3 months ago

      Well, paper bags were removed from Supermarkets because trees had to be cut to produce them. Then, plastic bags have been discouraged because it harms the environment. So, we take our own reusable cloth bags to the supermarket now to carry home our food. How long until paper straws become evil because trees have to be cut down to make them? Nobody who complains about paper seems to understand trees can be replanted. So, what's next? Maybe glasses with straws built into them. I've seen those. That might be a solution.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      3 months ago from Norfolk, England

      This is certainly good news, and I'm glad to hear that plastic straws are being replaced with paper ones.

    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      3 months ago from California

      I will totally support this campaign. As I was able to visit different places, I had a clear picture of what's happening to environment. Garbages everywhere! Sadly, it seems like most people don't even care. So removing plastic straw means not giving people the chance throw anything that will cause pollution in our environment.

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