Starbucks sets positive example by working to reduce waste

By Lucas Skye

America should follow Starbucks’ lead by banning disposable plastic straws.

Starbucks is setting a great example by eliminating plastic straws from their locations globally by 2020, according to a July 9 press release by the company. The change stems from Starbucks desire to reduce the plastic waste they produce.

“This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Starbucks.

If there’s a time to combat plastic waste, it’s now. Currently, over 500 million plastic straws are used in America each day, according to data collected from the Eco-Cycle organization.

On top of the staggering amount of plastic waste straws create on a daily basis, between 22 and 42 percent of all plastics end up in landfills, according to a Sept. 2015 article by

Unfortunately, the use of plastic straws and pollution does more than tarnish our landscapes, it affects our wildlife as well. So far, 90 percent of seabirds around the world have ingested plastic waste, according to a Aug. 2015 article published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

If not to preserve the health of our planet or wildlife, at least ban plastic straws for the preservation of people’s health. Due to plastic often finding its way into our ocean, people who eat fish and other seafoods may end up ingesting the plastic waste themselves as fish mistakenly eating plastic is far from uncommon, according to a Dec. 2014 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Those opposed to Starbucks’ measures may cite concerns for customers who are disabled and require straws to drink. For people who need straws, paper or reusable straws are great options. Sets of reusable straws made of silicone and stainless steel can be purchased online for just a few dollars, allowing those who need the assistance of a straw to drink while also reducing plastic waste.

Another argument against banning straws lies in the fact they aren’t the only source of plastic pollution. While it is true that eliminating disposable straws won’t eliminate plastic pollution entirely, avoiding plastic straws can be easily accomplished and may serve as a stepping stone to banning all plastic cutlery, plates and cups much like France did in 2016.

Overall, plastic straws are superfluous as their one-time use can have permanent results on the environment, health and innocent wildlife.