Starbucks says they'll be doing it. (But not completely until 2020.)

McDonald's is doing it. (But only in the UK, and now Seattle.)

So you'll forgive me if I'm more than a little surprised to see that American Airlines is out in front of this matter.

The issue? Plastic straws. 

Yesterday, American announced that by the end of this month, they'll "eliminate [plastic] straws from its lounges and instead serve drinks with a biodegradable, eco-friendly straw and wood stir stick."

American actually isn't the first U.S. airline to do this. That credit seems to go to Alaska Airlines, which announced in May that it was replacing all plastic straws and citrus picks. 

Last year, Alaska gave out 22 million of these little plastic trinkets, so it's a pretty big step. But American is a lot bigger than Alaska, so it potentially has a lot more impact.

Which leads me to question: If the airlines can make the switch, why big can't fast food chains do so, just as quickly?

Starbucks this week said they're replacing straws--but phasing them out over two years--with plastic sippy cups.

And McDonald's in the U.S. voted down a proposal just to study the issue of plastic straws in May, although it's banned them in some areas worldwide including the U.K.

Eventually a U.S. ban seems inevitable. As Vox explained:

Straws are far from our biggest problem when it comes to marine plastic pollution, but of all the single-use plastics, they seem to be the easiest to let go of (except for people with certain disabilities who can't drink out of cups without them). And activists hope that straws will be a "gateway plastic," encouraging people to forgo other single-use plastics such as bags and bottles.

Straw bans aren't going to save the ocean, but they could jumpstart much-needed conversations about the level of non-biodegradable trash in them.

For American, it seems comparatively easy--and making the change gets them a little good PR in the process. It's also 71,000 pounds of plastic that customers won't be using and throwing out, which means more than 35 tons less that the airline has to use fuel to fly through the air.

"We're very excited and proud to share this initiative with our team members and customers," said Jill Surdek, American's vice president, flight service. "We're cognizant of our impact on the environment and we remain committed to doing our part to sustain the planet for future generations of travelers."

I guess every little bit counts.

What do you think? Will you miss plastic straws when they're gone? Let us know in the comments.

Published on: Jul 11, 2018
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