Friday, 17 August 2018

The Summer of Plastic-Straw Bans: How We Got There – via Herp Digest

Once ubiquitous, plastic straws have become utensil non grata, with cities banning them and companies phasing them out

When reality-TV star Kim Kardashian West told her 115 million Instagram followers that her household had stopped using plastic straws, the head of an environmental nonprofit responded in disbelief.

“I thought, ‘Did we culture-hack this?’ ” said Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, whose #StopSucking social-media campaign advocates banning single-use plastic straws. “Did we change the conversation around straws?”

This is the summer of the plastic-straw ban. Bans on straws have swept through U.S. cities, businesses, restaurants and even sports venues at a surprising speed. In recent months, officials in cities including New York, San Francisco, Miami Beach, Fla., Santa Barbara, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have either proposed or passed bans on single-use plastic straws. Last month, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to put a ban into effect.

Starbucks Corp. , Hyatt Hotels Corp. , Disney Co. and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, among others, said they would phase out single-use plastic straws last month.

The story of how plastic straws went from ubiquitous to utensil non grata is one of psychology, a well-timed turtle and the power of social media. There has also been minimal industry pushback.
Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology and environmental studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio, compared the movement to the Ice Bucket Challenge, a 2014 social-media sensation in which people posted videos of cold water being dumped on their heads and donated to charity.

Activities like avoiding straws can lead to something psychologists call moral licensing, Dr. Clayton said, in which some people feel good about themselves for changing certain behaviors, so don’t feel the need to take further action.

“Do you do this little thing and say, ‘Now I’ve done my part, so I can drive to Starbucks instead of walking’?” she said. “Or do you think, ‘This saving the environment stuff isn’t so hard after all’?”
While calls for straw bans have accelerated in recent months, advocates consider the movement’s major boosters a social-media campaign and a 2015 YouTube video of a bloodied straw being pulled out of a sea turtle’s nostril. The video has 32.6 million views.
(One of many videos showing a straw being taken out of sea turtles nostril

The video “opened up a broader question: What are we doing with single-use plastics?” said John Calvelli, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Give a Sip campaign, which seeks to educate New Yorkers about the impact of plastic pollution. (HD-Editor-This is the real purpose of such single-use campaigns-as metaphors to educate the general public of larger problems. Which is why their are local beach clean-ups, Or so I believe.)

Some also credit the influence of an oft-cited statistic that Americans use 500 million straws each day. The figure, which has been cited by the National Park Service and others, including The Wall Street Journal, comes from the 2011 research of a then nine-year-old Vermont boy and his mother. ( Editor of HD-Would love if they interviewed  the boy and/or his mother to see how they came up with number.)

Related Articles at Wall Street Journal

            Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws by 2020 (July 9)
            The War on Straws Is Coming to a Bar Near You (March 19)

Straws aren’t the only single-use item to have been the subject of environmentalists’ ire. But campaigns to bring recyclable bags to the grocery store or tote around reusable mugs haven’t caught on with the same verve.

“The kind of sacrifice that someone has to make to not get a plastic bag is a bigger sacrifice than not having a straw,” said Melissa Checker, an environmental-psychology professor at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

Adding to the movement’s success is its lack of organized opposition. Some advocates for disabled people who need drinking straws have spoken out against the bans, leading to exceptions to some cities’ proposed rules. Others who have opposed bans include owners of bubble tea shops, who say the drinks’ tapioca balls require wide straws.

Some consumers note the convenience of plastic straws; they allow for slurping an iced coffee while driving or walking, without major spills. But such mundane complaints haven’t coalesced into a coalition.

To the extent that a straw-ban backlash has cropped up, much of it has come from people who oppose the craze that has surrounded the bans. Some oppose government working its way into their soft-drink cups. Others question whether the bans aren’t just a self-congratulatory, ecological fad with little environmental impact.

“It’s so trivial,” said Larry Grossman, 53, from Short Hills, N.J., as he left a Starbucks in Manhattan.

“I’ve got a plastic lid,” he said, pointing to his coffee cup. “If they get rid of the lid next, I’d have to find another way not to spill my coffee.”

            Alaska Airlines: Will use white-birch stir sticks and bamboo citrus picks. Nonplastic straws available upon request.
            American Airlines: Will use stir sticks made of bamboo. Lounges will use “a biodegradable, eco-friendly straw.”
            Barclays Center: Will use strawless lids. Compostable straws available upon request.
            Bon Appétit Management: Paper straws available “to guests with physical challenges or who strongly feel they need a straw.”
            Hyatt Hotels: Straws and picks available on request. Will use “eco-friendly alternatives…where available.”
            Marriott International: Will offer alternative straws upon request.
            Royal Caribbean Cruises: Will offer paper straws upon request. Will also use wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks.
            SeaWorld Entertainment: Will use paper or reusable plastic straws.
            Starbucks: Will use strawless lids. Also plans to use paper or compostable straws with some beverages or upon request.
            Walt Disney: Paper and other kinds of straws will be available upon request.

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