Straws are terrible. Every year they contribute a massive amount of waste into our trash system and pose a danger to marine life — contributing to the Great Pacific garbage patch or ending up strewn across beaches. It’s wild, of course, that we’re just now realizing this, but you have to credit society for how quickly everyone has become straw-woke. After a massive outcry over the past two years, cities are starting to ban single-use plastic straws and corporations have seen the writing on the wall.
On Monday, Starbucks announced that they too would be going straw-less, as soon as 2020. In the coming months Starbucks will be introducing their new drink lids, which feature a raised top with a lip, akin to a sippy cup. Starbucks first introduced their straw-less lids at their Seattle Roastery back in 2016, and by fall this year the lids will be in every store in Seattle and Vancouver, with more regions to come.
Those worried they’ll have to consume their beloved Frappuccinos with a spoon will be pleased to know that Starbucks is switching over to paper and compostable straws for drinks where a straw is essential.
Starbucks shift to the new lids and the replacement of their plastic straws will save 1 billion straws per year. That’s a billion straws each year, that won’t be bobbing next to surfers, buried in the sand, filling up landfills, or ending up in storm drains. It’s a very good thing (even if the precise impact of straws on marine life is unknown).
It’s no surprise Starbucks seems to be taking the lead on this, as Seattle (Starbucks Home) just became the first big city to ban plastic straws and utensils in the United States. Along with this environment-friendly shift, Starbucks will also be introducing two new drinks. Their new Salted Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew and Iced Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte are designed to make good use of Starbucks new lids, giving foam lovers direct access to the goods, which would otherwise require removal of a lid or a straw.
This small, clear, direct action is exactly what we need if we’re going to change the world. Is it enough? Of course not. But it’s a nice start and we look forward to more corporations following suit.