A slow end to Plastic Straws

Hotels, resorts, safaris, and cruises are increasingly using less plastic straws and moving to Bamboo Straws

In this article Devorah Le Tov reported in May 2018, how damaging plastic straws are to our marine life-

” For starters, it easily finds its way into oceans due to its lightweight nature. Once there, it does not biodegrade. Instead, it slowly fragments into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics, which are frequently mistaken for food by marine animals.”

In 2015, a disturbing video of an olive ridley sea turtle suffering from a plastic straw stuck in its nose went viral, changing many viewers’ attitudes toward the plastic tool that is largely a convenience for most people.

But how can the plastic straw—a diminutive item used briefly before being thrown away—cause so much damage?

Secondly, it can’t be recycled. “Unfortunately, most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters, so they end up in landfills and waterways and, eventually, our oceans,” explains Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale. The nonprofit facilitated the successful Strawless in Seattle marketing campaign supporting the Strawless Ocean initiative.

In the United States, we dispose of millions of plastic straws each day. In the U.K., at least 4.4 billion straws are estimated to be thrown away annually. Hotels are some of the worst offenders: Hilton Waikoloa Village, which became the first resort on the island of Hawaii to eliminate plastic straws earlier this year, used more than 800,000 straws in 2017.

Of course, straws are just part of the monumental waste that goes into our oceans. “Over the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than in the whole of the last century, and 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use and is immediately thrown away,” says Tessa Hempson, operations manager for Oceans Without Borders, a newly launched foundation from luxury safari company &Beyond. “One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans. Forty-four percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of whales and dolphins, all sea turtle species, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.”

But now, the plastic straw has finally started to become an endangered species itself, with some cities in the United States (Seattle, Washington; Miami Beach and Fort Myers Beach, Florida; and Malibu, Davis, and San Luis Obispo, California) banning them, and some countries limiting single-use plastic items, which include straws. Belize, Taiwan, and England are among the latest countries to propose bans.

Still, a company doesn’t have to wait for the government to institute a ban before implementing one on its own. Soneva banned straws in 2008, and Cayuga has been using bamboo straws since 2010. Hotels like these have paved the way for a movement and the travel and hospitality industries are finally starting to catch on.

Hotel brands initiating plastic straw bans include Four SeasonsAccorHotels North and Central America, Marriott International in the U.K., EDITION hotels, the Doyle CollectionSix SensesTaj Hotels Palaces Resorts SafarisExperimental Group, and Anantara. Cruise lines and tour companies including CarnivalHurtigrutenPeregrine Adventures, and Coral Expeditions have reduced or eliminated their use of plastic straws on their ships. And luxury safari companies like &Beyond and Wilderness Safaris are both working toward removing plastic straws from their lodges.


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