A strawless future?
Should companies and governments instead of the public be the driver of sustainability? In recent news, one of the largest food and beverage companies has started a global movement. Starbucks has taken the stance to eradicate plastic straws worldwide to contribute to the social movement of the reduction of ocean waste. The effect of social media campaigns, famous celebrities speaking out, and especially the released viral video that depicts the dangerous impact of plastic in the ocean wildlife has not only reached individuals, but also made corporations act amid this awareness.
Ocean waste has been a rising issue with shocking videos being released of scuba divers swimming through an ocean of plastic wastes. In a year, it is found that 275 million metric tons of plastic waste make their way through the ocean, and this number will even increase in the coming years. By the year 2050, it is reported that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Ocean waste impacts the ocean’s wildlife, killing turtles, fish and other marine creatures. The chemicals of some plastic have poisoned plants and the water, which made a critical impact on the environment.
By the year 2050, it is reported that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish
An 8-minute video of a sea turtle affected by the plastic waste went viral and caused a social uproar. In the video, it is graphically shown that a straw is lodged into the turtle’s nose and that a marine biologist is aiding the sea turtle. This video convinced Starbucks, one of the large corporations in the food industry, to aim its company to get rid of one billion of its plastic straws in all of their 28000 stores globally. Instead of plastic straws, the company will start the use of recycled lids. Customers are still able to request for straws, but these are biodegradable. This will be the first largest company in the food and beverage industry to implement this social movement. Startbucks received mostly positive reactions after the announcement of their straw ban, showing that corporate actions like these can help teach the world how to embrace sustainable business practices. Other corporations are under pressure to follow this social movement. Following Starbucks, other large companies like McDonald’s, Alaska Airlines and Bon Appetit were petitioned online to stop the use of plastic straws.
Actions like these can help teach the world how to embrace sustainable business practices
Government and Cities
Not only the corporate world has been impacted by the public awareness of ocean waste. Governments, too, are implementing straw bans to entire cities. Seattle, the home of Starbucks became the first big city to do so. California is still piloting the ban, and first only established the ban in Malibu, Oakland and Berkley. Areas around Florida already banned plastic straws and New Jersey has approved the ban and even expanded it by including plastic bags. Other countries are also tempted to follow the example. Following the Starbucks announcement, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to ban plastic straws and other plastic related products in the country.
Actions of businesses and governments can influence the way individuals live their daily lives, and change consumer behaviour for the better
Corporate actions, such as Starbuck’s straw ban, help make individuals aware of the negative impact we have on our environment; actions of businesses and governments can influence the way individuals live their daily lives, and change consumer behaviour for the better. Simply giving information to the public about the current situation in our environment may not have the desired impact on the behaviour of the public. Perhaps we should let businesses and governments, through actions and legislations, lead the way in making our society more sustainable.Izzabelle Ballouz 05-12-2018