When you go out to eat or pick up a drink to have back at home, you’d probably use a straw to drink it with, right?
You may not think twice about your plastic drinking straws, but the fact is, they’re highly detrimental to the environment.
Plastics are not biodegradable, which means when they’re thrown out in landfills or end up in the oceans from improper disposal, they’ll take forever to break down. And not only that, but they’ll break down in ways that are bad for the Earth.
To cut down on this effect, many places around the world have taken some responsibility to reduce plastic usage. Here are 7 countries, states, and cities that have done their part in looking after the environment and have banned plastic drinking straws.
1. Seattle, WA
Let’s start with the city that set the precedent for banning plastic drinking straws.
In July of 2018, it became law that restaurants and food service businesses couldn’t give their customers plastic drinking straws anymore. In fact, they required all these businesses to use recyclable or compostable packaging, as well as serviceware (such as paper straws).
This law is all-encompassing, as it applies to not only restaurants, but also coffee shops, food trucks, grocery stores, and cafeterias.
In addition to providing customers with recyclable or compostable packaging, businesses must also have options for recycling in clearly labeled bins. Plus, they have to sign up for composting and recycling.
That’s surely an ambitious law from Seattle! Not to mention, they’ve also banned all plastic utensils!
This state doesn’t have such a stringent law as Seattle does, but it’s a start.
In 2019, it became the first US state to ban plastic drinking straws. More specifically, their law says that sit-down restaurants can’t automatically give their customers a straw with their drinks.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t have plastic drinking straws though. If customers really desire them, then they’ll have to ask. In that case, the restaurant must provide it for them.
If any restaurants are found violating this law, they have to pay $25 a day.
Taiwan’s certainly pursuing ambitious action, despite being such a small country.
In February of 2018, they revealed one of the most stringent bans on plastic in the whole world! They’re aiming to get rid of the use of single-use straws, as well as plastic bags, cups, and utensils.
Although the blanket ban isn’t quite all over the nation yet, the plan is to completely roll it out by 2030. Other measures they hope to enforce to help the environment include better recycling programs and extra charges on plastic bags.
Taiwan’s planning on introducing this ban slowly:
- 2019: Ban on plastic straws in chain restaurants
- 2020: Overall ban on straws in dining outlets; charge for plastic bags, utensils, and disposable food containers if retail stores give them out for free
- 2025: Additional fees on the items retail stores provide from the previous point
The UK hasn’t actually banned plastic drinking straws all across, although it’s banned plastic microbeads in their products. These beads can end up in oceans, which can then be eaten by the wildlife and end up back in our food chain.
And although they haven’t banned them, the UK’s introduced a tax on plastic bags in 2015.
And the Queen herself is joining in on the war against plastic. In February of 2018, she banned the use of plastic straws and bottles on the Royal Estate.
So although there’s no all-encompassing law that bans the use of plastic drinking straws, at least there are other measures in place to reduce the use of plastic and to prevent it from ending up in our landfills and oceans.
Ok, so Starbucks isn’t a city, state, or country, but they sure have built a global empire. People from all corners of the world drink and eat their products, so any measures they take are sure to have a huge impact.
First, they introduced a strawless lid, but their initial intention wasn’t to cut down on plastic—it was to showcase their Nitro brews. That had the unintended effect of reducing plastic straw usage at Starbucks locations.
Then, in 2018, they announced they were going to phase out plastic straws all across its 28,000 locations worldwide by 2020.
This also isn’t a city, state, or country, but like with Starbucks, McDonald’s has a huge global impact. So we feel like they should be included on this list.
Also in 2018, McDonald’s announced that they were going to ban plastic drinking straws at their UK and Irish locations. They actually started introducing paper drinking straws in September of that year.
While their goals aren’t as ambitious and far-reaching as Starbucks’s, McDonald’s is still making a step in the right direction. Hopefully, other fast food chains will follow suit and help reduce the use of plastic in the world.
7. Alaska Airlines
Airlines have a global reach, just like Starbucks and McDonald’s do. The first to do so, Alaska Airlines stopped using plastic straws and stirrers.
This came about after a passionate Girl Scout named Shelby O’Neil reached out to the airline in 2017. Because of that, Alaska Airlines started replacing their stir straws and citrus picks with marine-friendly and sustainable alternatives. In fact, they also partnered with Lonely Whale.
Plastic Drinking Straws Are Bad for the Environment
Plastic drinking straws are obviously bad for the environment, as it can be dangerous for wildlife. Add in the fact that it’s very slow to deteriorate, and it’s bad for us as well.
Even if your city or country hasn’t banned plastic drinking straws, you can still make a difference. Take some initiative and replace your drinking straws with paper ones instead!
Ready to make a change? Then take a look at our paper straw products now!