Plastic straw’s days may be over and we can thank a turtle! The anti-straw movement may have first picked up steam because of a viral video of a turtle that started going around in 2015. A Texas A&M graduate student was out tagging turtles as part of her research in Costa Rica when she noticed something encrusted in the nose of one of the male turtles. It was actually a plastic straw stuck in his nose. That turtle became a poster child for the anti-straw movement.
Recently, more and more of the places I visit regularly, Rook Coffee, Starbucks, and the snack bar at the local beach are all offering plastic straw alternatives. While I am all for keeping plastic out of our oceans and off our are beaches, I personally hate mushy paper straws. That’s why I’m so excited to drink out of Starbucks’ new sippy cup for adults.
Less than 9% of all of the plastic we use every day gets recycled and for each of the world’s 7.6 billion humans, we’re producing 88 pounds of plastic a year. A little plastic straw may be the least of our worries, but cities like San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Seattle already implemented bans that are going into effect. Maybe letting go of a single piece of plastic could be the first step in a much-needed larger behavior change.
Society’s shift to using less plastic, at least when it comes to straws, is creating tons of opportunities for brands. New brands can create products to solve the problem and break onto the scene. But there is also an opportunity for legacy brands to provide new ways to keep their conscious consumers re-engaged with their brand.
Disney, Hyatt, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Bon Appetit, SeaWorld, Royal Caribbean, and Marriott International have all said they are taking steps to stop using plastic straws. Starbucks is phasing out plastic straws in its 28,000 stores worldwide in favor of a sippable lid made from recyclable materials. Chris Milne, director of packaging sourcing for Starbucks said,“Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the san and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit”. They are really putting themselves out there in front of this issue to satisfy the health and environmentally conscious Starbucks consumer.
Smaller brands like my local favorite, Rook Coffee, are also making changes to ensure their consumers know they care about the environment. Rook started selling a cool reusable straw for $3 each. Other brands are starting to make personal reusable straws. Koffie Straw is made from soft silicone that will stay at room temperature even if a drink is still hot. It’s also thin enough to fit through the slit in a hot coffee cup and flexible enough to fold up into any bag. Silicone is durable and could last forever, but when a straw is ready to toss, just burn it and it will turn into 100 percent biodegradable ash. Klean Kanteen is selling a 5 piece stainless steel straw set that is stainless steel on the bottom, but silicone on the top to eliminate the scalding lips issue and the fear of chipped teeth. Buluh Straws are even making bamboo straws are also a cheap option (only $15 for a set of 8) that last a long time.
Straws and plastics are certainly not the only ethical problem a brand can help solve. There are a lot of different issues your brand can connect with the health and environmentally conscious consumer on, if you want help figuring it out, let’s talk.