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Old 07-11-2018, 10:40 PM   #1
Rubeus
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Starbucks' straw ban is a big win for the Earth's oceans

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Starbucks' straw ban is a big win for the Earth's oceans
That's a billion fewer single-use straws being thrown away every year.


Those little plastic straws that you get at virtually every restaurant in America have become a huge problem for the world's oceans and Starbucks is finally doing something about it. The global coffeehouse chain announced on Monday that it will immediately begin phasing out plastic drinking straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide and eliminate their availability almost completely by 2020. Given that the company uses around a billion straws every year, that could make a significant difference to the health of our seas.

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Drinking straws are just part of a planet-wide plastic pollution problem. Humans generate around 35 million tons of plastic pollution annually and about a quarter of it -- 9 million tons -- ends up in the ocean, according to a 2015 University of Georgia study published in the journal, Science. Of that, about 2,000 tons (4 percent) is made up of discarded straws. But since these items weigh on average .42 grams (1/67 of an ounce), we're still dealing with billions of individual units. According to Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox, some 7.5 million straws litter America's shorelines alone. They estimate that as many as 8.3 billion straws can be found on the world's coastlines.

"For every pound of tuna we're taking out of the ocean, we're putting two pounds of plastic in the ocean," Sherry Lippiatt, California regional coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine debris program, told the AP.

Our polluting practices have wrought havoc on the marine ecosystem for years but a call for action went out in 2015 when Christine Figgener, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University, posted the following video of a sea turtle having a straw graphically removed from its nostril to YouTube. It's been viewed more than 30 million times since its posting and helped to coalesce public support for banning plastic straws.

"There are several of these single-use items the public is realizing, hey, we don't actually need these," Denise Hardesty, a scientist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, told the Chicago Tribune.

Even so, banning straws should only rectify around 4 percent of the plastic pollution problem, right? "Banning straws is about as important as spitting in the wind," Psychologist Robert Gifford told Grist in July. But the action carries with it a "foot in the door" benefit, he explained. "A lot of social psychology research says that if you get people to say yes to a small request, they are more likely to accede to more serious requests." So by building support for small changes, like banning straws, society should in the future be able to further nurture support for more fundamental environmentally-friendly changes.



In the straws' places, Starbucks is developing a recyclable spouted lid that has been described as an "adult sippy cup." These lids, according the the company, "will become the standard for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages." It's already available at 8,000 North American locations for the company's Draft Nitro and Cold Foam drinks. Seattle and Vancouver customers will be the first to see these new lids on all their drinks starting this fall. The rest of the US and Canada will get them by the end of 2019 and the rest of the world will receive them after that.


https://www.engadget.com/2018/07/11/...earths-oceans/
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