Campaign To Ditch Plastic Straws Expands Worldwide For 2018

The Lonely Whale Foundation removed two million plastic straws from Seattle in September, and now they're going worldwide. People can vote for 10 cities they'll be hitting next year, promoting businesses that decide to ditch the plastic straw.


May 25 2019, Updated 5:31 a.m. ET

Throughout last month, the Lonely Whale Foundation ran a campaign called “Strawless in Seattle.” Over 100 restaurants and organizations removed plastic straws from being an option to use in efforts to eliminate plastic waste. The movement will now be pushing toward other major cities around the world for a new campaign in 2018.

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19 total cities have been nominated for the “Strawless Ocean” tour next year. New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas are some of the major cities in the United States. San Francisco and Los Angeles are also options in California, where there have already been places that have limited the use of plastic straws. They’ll also be looking toward Hong Kong, Amsterdam, London, and Berlin.

The Lonely Whale Foundation has opened up voting to the public, where people can vote for between two and 10 cities. Voters also have the option to write in cities that are not on the initial list. All votes will be tallied up on November 30th and there will be an email announcement sent for those that choose to enter it.

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“Strawless in Seattle” ended up being a major success for the foundation. According to Tree Hugger, at least two million plastic straws weren’t used in the city through the month of September, “and more than 150 local partners...are now incorporating marine-degradable alternatives to plastic straws in their establishments.” Other organizations, like the Seattle Seahawks, will continue to keep plastic straws out of CenturyLink Field for their home games.

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“It’s one thing to personally decide against using straws, but it’s another thing altogether for a whole business or city to decide to go plastic-straw free,” writes Eillie Anzilotti at Fast Company, who did a profile on the “Strawless in Seattle” campaign. It’s the sort of push that needs to happen to really get the message out. It at least forces a conversation to be had, even for those that aren’t willing to give up plastic straws.

Sustainable alternatives like paper and reusable metal straws have been met with skepticism. Perhaps drinks taste a little different through a paper straw, or it isn’t as sturdy. People also don’t want to carry around a metal straw everywhere they go. These criticisms are valid, but are eight plastic straws really needed when a group of four comes into a restaurant and each receives water and a soda? Some restaurants have opted to have customers ask for a straw instead of being handed one, which is a step in the right direction.

We’ll see how the movement carries on throughout the world, but Seattle’s results provide great optimism in spreading the word. Plastic pollution harms our environment and the wildlife in it, and giving up plastic straws for a greener alternative is an easy way to suck out part of the problem.

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