Saying Goodbye to Plastic Straws

Posted by Chad Stamm on Aug 27, 2018 12:51:45 PM

In food and beverage, Restaurants

It's happening all across the country. In Seattle, operators can be fined $250 for serving plastic straws. In places like New York City and Miami, efforts to ban plastic straws are also underway. Some restaurants are even making the switch to paper straws without the input of regulations. 

But what's behind this movement away from plastic straws?

The Surfrider Foundation is certainly part of that answer with their massive campaigns to "say goodbye to plastic straws." As they mention, plastic straws are in the top ten items collected globally along our planet's beaches and shorelines. Plastics are overwhelming our oceans at alarming rates (perhaps you've seen the video with the turtle), and many organizations ranging from governments to global corporations have picked up on these trends. But it's the smaller plastic particles, not the shocking videos, that can cause the biggest harm.

Where did the straw trend begin in the first place, and where is it heading in the future?

As detailed in The Atlantic, the earliest evidence of straws comes from a Sumerian tomb dated to around 3,000 B.C. In a seal contained within that tomb, two men are drinking beer from a jar with the aid of straws, so there's obviously historic precedent for their use.

Where we're heading is a much different question. Many are arguing for people to "go strawless" or #stopsucking all together. This includes not using straws or even BYOS, or Bring Your Own Straw. More common, it seems, people are turning to other straw options manufactured with different materials. But they also have disadvantages.

Compostable straws could work, but they are more expensive and will only decompose in a composting facility, not your backyard. Paper straws are also an option, but they tend to get soggy and will break down as a beverage is consumed. Pasta straws are even a thing, but they can impart unwanted flavors.

The bottom line is we're at a crossroads with all things plastic. Straws are in the crosshairs right now, but as we continue to see the impacts plastic is having on our environment and as manufacturers find new, profitable ways to mitigate those challenges, we can look for even more changes to how we consume food and beverage in the future.


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