The movement toward greener, more Earth-friendly solutions for common consumer choices continues to grow. In 2016, California banned single-use plastic bags from retail stores, and other states are following suit. Next in the crosshairs are a range of other single-use plastics that litter the ocean, beaches, streets, and parks, including food service containers (including tableware), bottles, and bottle caps. Among the items to recently come under fire are single-use plastic straws.
It’s not clear how straws became the latest hot-button issue (according to various environmental groups, plastic straws account for a very small percentage of overall plastic pollution), but here we are, nonetheless.
In addition to many municipalities and several large entities (including Starbucks, Hyatt, and Hilton) transitioning away from their use, Loews Chicago Hotel has partnered with Shedd Aquarium’s “Shedd the Straw” initiative; as of August 1, patrons at the hotels’ bars and restaurants will be provided biodegradable straws “on request.”
These types of corporate decisions are good news for companies that produce paper and recyclable replacements. Los Angeles, Calif.-based Repurpose has introduced compostable bendy straws that are BPA- and chlorine-free. Aardvark, the only U.S.-based producer of paper drinking straws, was recently acquired by Hoffmaster Group, a Wisconsin-based firm that makes premium disposable paper napkins and other tableware; this should speed up production as demand continues to increase.
Another option closely parallels the move to reusable cloth grocery bags and reinforced glass water bottles. Specialty retailers (both brick-and-mortar and online) have started including personal straws in their inventory. Made of various metals and other recyclable materials, some have carrying cases while others break down into compact pieces. It can’t be long before they’re customizable with a logo or brand—what a great, forward-thinking giveaway!