SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean Say No to Plastic Straws!!

Reported on by the Washington Post, more big names are joining the war on single use plastic straws! In the latest move, following the highly publicized death of a pilot whale in Thailand due to a stomach full of plastic bags, three big companies, SeaWorld, IKEA and Royal Caribbean have all announced their commitment to remove plastic straws from their operations. The big question of course - will they go straw free, or will bamboo straws continue to find their way around the world?

A green turtle swims underneath an ocean of plastic bags and other plastic debris

SeaWorld Entertainment announced Thursday that its 12 theme parks had removed “all single-use plastic drinking straws” In a statement, interim chief executive John Reilly called the move “a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean and animals … which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution.”

The same day, Royal Caribbean Cruises said its fleet of 50 ships “will ring in 2019 free of plastic straws.” That includes luxury liners under all of its brands, including Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. “For over a year now, RCL ships have begun implementing a straws upon request policy,” a statement said. “That program will be taken a step further by the start of 2019, when guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw instead of a plastic one.” Guests will get wood stirrers for coffee and bamboo garnish picks as part of the drive to reduce trash.

By 2020, Ikea said, its stores will no longer hand out plastic bags or straws as part of an effort to become “people and planet positive” within 10 years. Lena Pripp-Kovac, the furniture giant’s sustainability manager, said that moving forward, Ikea “will design all products from the very beginning to be repurposed, repaired, reused, resold and recycled.” Ikea plans to take the effort a step further by introducing low-cost home solar products and even offering vegetarian food selections at its in-store cafeterias.

The global Plastic Pollution Coalition estimated last year that 1,800 “restaurants, organizations, institutions and schools worldwide have gotten rid of plastic straws or implemented a serve-straws-upon-request policy,” said Jackie Nunez, founder of a group called the Last Plastic Straw.

The anti-straw campaign exploded after a YouTube video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral in 2015. The video, which featured a cringe-inducing effort to pull the plastic out of a bloody nostril, has been viewed more than 26 million times. Plastic production has surged from 15 million tons in 1964 to more than 310 million in 2014 and is expected to double over the next 20 years, according to that 2016 report. Like straws, plastic bags are easily swept upward by winds and deposited in drains that lead to open water.

Paper straws were invented more than a century ago by Marvin Stone, a Washington man who did not like how the traditional ryegrass straw people used for drinking would disintegrate and leave gritty residue in his mint juleps. He wrapped strips of paper around a pencil, glued the strips together and test-marketed the contraption, and in 1888, the disposable straw was born, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

The new paper straw was limited mostly to hospitals, which used it to avoid spreading disease. Usage widened in the early 1900s as a polio epidemic prompted people to avoid putting their mouths on others’ drinking glasses. In the 1960s, restaurants began offering a disposable plastic straw. It is a convenience people use arbitrarily. Millions drink soda from a glass with a straw — but not beer. Hot-coffee drinkers gulp directly from cups but stick straws in iced coffee. Bar hoppers drink highballs from a glass, but mixed cocktails come with a straw. Conservationists are now offering options such as bamboo, stainless steel and other straws.

Will you join EcoPlanet Bamboo in providing these and other companies with a re-usable, sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative for the fight against single use plastic straws?

The above is an abbreviated version of an original article available at: