The Last Straw

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Groups Work to Make U.S. Go Strawless

About 500 million plastic straws are discarded daily in America, reports the U.S. National Park Service. Plastic that reaches waterways is ingested by marine life and our food chain. Individuals and municipalities are taking action to support options, including going strawless.

  • The Last Plastic Straw (TheLastPlasticStraw.org), a project of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, has a worldwide map locator that pinpoints restaurants that have ceased using plastic straws.

  • Milo Cress, who launched the Be Straw Free (BeStrawFree.org) campaign in 2011 when he was 9, is again speaking to school students this fall, primarily via Skype. “It’s exciting to inspire them to know that they can do something in their community,” says the senior high school student in Shelburne, Vermont.

  • Strawfree.org, a Southern California volunteer-driven organization, offers kits that include bamboo straws, carrying holders and cleaning brushes.

  • McDonald’s has announced it will transition from plastic to paper straws in its U.S., UK and Ireland restaurants beginning this year, and subsequently expand the switch to other countries.

  • In May, New York City lawmakers introduced a bill banning plastic straws in all bars and restaurants in the Big Apple, and Seattle has banned the use of single-use plastic straws, thanks to the Strawless in Seattle movement. Eco-Cycle, Inc. (EcoCycle.org) and the Inland Ocean Coalition, both in Boulder, Colorado, are asking restaurants citywide not to use them. In July, Starbucks announced plans to eliminate straw use globally by 2020.

  • StrawlessOcean.org offers straw alternatives made of paper by Aardvark, steel and silicone by Klean Kanteen, metal by Steelys Drinkware and bamboo by StrawFree.

  • EcoWatch.com suggests, “Unlike metal or glass, soft and bendable silicone straws don’t clink your teeth, making them ideal for kids and straw-biters” and that such products made by Softy Straws work with hot drinks and withstand dishwashers. It also recommends wheat stems, corn bioplastic and bucatini pasta, a spaghetti-like noodle with a hole in the middle.