In recent news you may have heard how Starbucks announced that it is planning to ban ALL straws from it’s stores. While this is a big move for such a big corporation, you may be surprised to hear that people have mixed feelings about it.
Over the years we’ve all heard how global warming is real and we are hurting our ecosystem with the overuse of products such as plastic straws. The USA alone is estimated to use 500 million straws every day (enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times!). The issue lies that the materials made to make straws, is not biodegradable and although most straws are made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene and techinically recycable, most programs will not accept straws nor recycle them.
In order to understand the environmental impact of straws, it is important to know the difference between biodegrading and degrading:
Biodegrading is when an item can be naturally broken down and digested by micro-organisms, and then naturally recycled into new organic molecules and life.
On the other hand, degrading is just the process of breaking down into smaller pieces. When plastic degrades, the bulk of the plastic will seem to disappear – However, what’s really happening is the plastic is breaking into smaller, invisible pieces that will always still be on Earth.
With that being said, plastic straws take up to 200 years to degrade, but will never be fully off the Earth, as plastics are not biodegradable. To make matters worse, the degrading of plastic releases chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and the environment. (Source)
Fast forward to Starbuck’s ban on straws…
You’d think that with a company with over 28,000 stores worldwide taking a ban on the use of straws would make an environmental impact, right? You’d think it’d be a good move for us all but that couldn’t be more far from the truth.
You see, while Starbuck’s is making a move in the right direction in terms of exposing the dangers of straw use, their solution to the straw ban is actually WORSE for our environment.
The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the “adult sippy cup.” It’s a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.
Take a look at this graphic below:
Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size. Yup, MORE PLASTIC.
While this plastic is recyclable, it does not change the fact that more plastic is being used.
More Plastic isn’t the only issue…
Aside from the more plastic aspect of the lids, many are saying that they are also discriminating against the disabled. Many argue that a straw is vital to some in order to drink. Apparently, the company has addressed this issue stating “We will work with the disability community to ensure we continue to meet their needs going forward.”
In all, I applaud Starbucks for trying to do the right thing. While Starbucks was heading in the right direction, they took a wrong turn on Google Maps. HA.
Personally, I’d love to see them invest in paper/biodegradable straws that are green and good for our environment. Sure, they aren’t as fancy or durable, but they can help the environmental impact while hopefully keeping everyone happy.
Would do you think? Did Starbucks make the right move?