A Whale, the Prince, and Ditching Plastic Straws

By Steve Blackledge
Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign

For their wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked well-wishers to give money to fight plastic pollution in our oceans. For those who hadn’t paid attention earlier, at that moment, it was clear that the plastics problem had hit the mainstream.

By “problem” I mean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (twice the size of Texas), a whale puking and then dying with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, microplastics in supermarket fish, and so much more.

The royal newlyweds aren’t the only ones tackling this problem.

Starbucks announced in July that it would phase out plastic straws. And coast to coast, from several cities in Florida to several California cities and Seattle, local governments have done the same.

What are the replacements to straws? Ideally, simply going without a straw becomes the new norm. But for various reasons, straws aren’t entirely going away. According to this CNN article, glass and paper straw makers are stepping up, and business is booming. Here’s an excerpt:

“The straw maker, which grew sales by 5000% last year, had been struggling to keep up with the demand since the tide turned against plastic drinking straws. There’s not…paper straw making machines lying around.”

People are finally getting fed up with a throwaway society that prioritizes five minutes of convenience (a plastic straw, a styrofoam coffee cup, etc.) over the long-term health of wildlife and our planet.

That’s a very good thing.

But I still have one lament: Why didn’t I invest in paper straws?