The Last Straw

Stores and restaurants often use plastic straws when serving drinks, as they have been for quite some time now. But a new change closer to the coasts sparked interests in companies like Starbucks. This 2.9 billion dollar company has began rethinking their choice of plastic straws and as a result are making the switch to a more environmentally friendly option, paper straws. However, people have mixed opinions about this new ¨environmental revolution¨ leaving some with an unsettling feeling about the change due to things like a possible effect on taste, price, and ultimately efficiency of the straws. Whether you agree with this change or not, this will definitely be a larger topic of discussion in the future and it should be observed that an increasing amount of companies will soon make this change, too.

The BF Bolt sat down with Starbucks employee´s who have addressed all of the concerns reporters had pertaining to cost and environmental decisions. After landing the interview, staff learned that Starbucks employees weren’t in the corporate loop but they do deal with customers everyday and were able to tell us some information. When manager of the Starbucks cafe on East Ridgewood Avenue, Nicole, was asked when this change would be put into action she told reporters that it would be about another 2 years. Nicole also shared belief that the prices may increase due to the cost difference between paper straws and plastic straws. In addition, Nicole stated that contrary to popular belief Starbucks didn’t feel any outside pressure to make the change from plastic to paper straws, it simply happened because of the companies yearn to make themselves as environmentally friendly as possible. And when asked about the questionable reaction of customers Nicole shared the thought of, “I think it’s going to vary on each location, but unfortunately there may be a few upset customers in Ridgewood.”  

Switching to paper straws is believed to ultimately lessen the amount of plastic waste in landfills. Plastic including, but not limited to, plastic straws used by Starbucks customers are causing massive and visible effects on marine life. Millions of viral videos cast the horrifying images of animals being harmed by the plastic littering the ocean and these videos have many people reinforcing the innovative idea that paper straws are more environmentally sound and humane. Supporting this idea, expert journalist James Rainey from NBC has written articles pertaining to pollution and in these works have included statements such as ,¨Seals trapped in plastic netting, dead whales disgorging mounds of plastic…a sea turtle suffering as rescuers struggle to remove a straw from its nose.” Students of BF have been asked to share personal insights unto the paper straw fiasco and their relationship with Starbucks. Though, while some may oppose the switch it is important to take into consideration the positive effect it has. The main objective of paper straws is to reduce the amount of plastic waste people put into the ocean. Not only is it affecting pollution rates but also the marine life that the people are responsible for putting in danger. Majority of students expressed loyalties to Starbucks and it doesn’t seem anyone is opposed to continuing being served by the company.

If no changes are put in place, it is predicted by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. This statistic is astounding and has reporters asking, how is this worldwide catastrophe taking such power over the near future? The plastic straw versus paper straw debate has caused outbursts of questions about human impact on the world today. It is a known fact that each year 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from the ingestion of plastic.  Scientific studies conducted over 2017 show plastic straws are the 11th most common piece of water pollution. But why exactly are so many stores changing to paper straws in the first place? Studies show that one of the main reasons why it is occurring is because of the notable difference in the length of the decomposition process between plastic and paper straws. It takes up to 500 years for a plastic straw to decompose where as on the other hand it takes 200 years for a paper straw to decompose. Switching to paper straws would mean a positive environmental impact on the earth, to be specific, a 300 year difference!

It is estimated that since the mid-1950s, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced globally and sixty percent of it now accumulates in a landfill or natural environment, such as the ocean. How many more animals have to die because of plastic straws before the world makes a substantial change? 10 seconds sipping from an unnecessary straw at the expense of a life. How many more stores have to change to paper straws for people to actually stand up and spread awareness about this cause?

Five-hundred-million people use plastic straws each day. Paper straws are beneficial for the environment and should be enforced at stores and restaurants globally. In the near future, Starbucks will be releasing a lid for cold drinks that eliminates the need for straws all together which is yet another monumental step forward for the environmental revolution. Starbucks is using a system known as a “soft change”, which simply means that they will get rid of all existing plastic straws first and then incorporate the paper straws afterwards which may be an effective way to ease customers into the possible price increase. But none of this is worthwhile if customers don’t have a positive response to the paper straws. In order to save current marine life and the future well-being of the Earth it is important that this change is made, and hopefully with similar opportunities to come.