It’s already 2019 and as days go by, more and more restaurant owners are piling up requests from the public, requests for change.
You know because you’re one of them, what are they asking you?
They’re asking for alternatives to plastic straws!
Not so long ago it wasn’t even considered, most of us overlooked the fact that so many straws are thrown out every day, but awareness has been brought to the public by some incidents that quickly became viral. Why?
Seen here on National Geographic, we’ve been finding dead aquatic animals washed ashore all over the planet, and when we look for the reasons why we discover their stomachs are full of plastics!
When we look at the contents, we see all sorts of plastics but one of the culprits:
The general public now wants to be Eco-friendly, it’s a proven fact and as a business owner, you want to reflect your values through your business. Do you want to continue seeing dead animals washed ashore with their guts full of plastics?
No, I don’t think anybody does, so how do you respond to that?
Start with this one simple step:
Switch from plastic straws to Eco-friendly straws.
In this article, we will go into detail why that is a smart strategy and we will learn a little bit more on the subject to ensure this is the right decision, here is what you can expect to learn from reading this:
- The uses of straws in all industries
- A little bit of history behind straws
- The impact it has on the environment
- The Eco-friendly straws you can pick from
- The pros and cons of switching
What Industries are Directly Related to Plastic Straws?
Now we know that the public wants to see Eco friendly straws, some good questions to start with are: Who does this matter to? What industries need to do the switch?
To find the answer, we need to find and list all industries that have a link to plastic drinking straws. Here’s what I found:
Food Service Industry
500 million straws end up in the landfill or in the streets every day, most of it comes from the food service industry. That’s a lot of small non-biodegradable plastic pieces sitting there polluting the environment and disturbing the ecosystem.
All sorts of popular drinks use straws, at the bar almost every cocktail you order will have a straw. At the coffee shop almost all sorts of cold drinks use a straw and when you are at the restaurant, your pop is very likely to come to your table with a straw. Given how drinks are almost always ordered with a meal, these operators need a high supply of straws.
Now I ask you, the coffee shop manager, the restaurant owner, and the bar owner, do you think the renewable alternatives like Eco friendly straws can fit in your price margins?
Later in this article, you can find a list of online retailers that sell them, compare the prices and see which one can work for you.
Don’t forget this is a new movement and it’s quickly impacting the food service industry. Switching with haste while ensuring your profits are safe is what you want. Breaking it down further, it’s a great strategy for your marketing and your customer service.
When you’re a manufacturer and you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time and the market suddenly shuns your product and asks for an alternative. It’s not so easy, your production process is catered to plastic and it’s not like you can do the switch overnight.
You ask yourself, is this just a trend and will it reverse to plastic again in the future?
There’s a possibility and you have to consider it but the Eco-friendly movement is here to stay, we can’t progress and be more environmentally conscious and later regress. That would mean all the efforts were in vain.
It’s not going to happen, now you want to stay in business and this is the choice you have to make. You have to switch and answer what the market wants.
You have some choices to make, later in the article, you will see what kind of Eco friendly straws your competitors are producing on the market and if you still haven’t made the move you might just be at an advantage here. Think about it, you can see which one works best and adapt better.
You’re about to send out your next stock order request but you’re not sure if you want to include Eco friendly straws or not? They’re more expensive than the plastic ones, considerably and if the old kind sells, why not keep selling them?
Well, the switch isn’t instantaneous, why don’t you order some of the alternatives as well to see how they sell? Plastic straws are going through a whole lot of scrutiny lately and it’s been the subject of many conversations.
You don’t have much to lose, you’re likely to contact and add to your network some manufacturers of green products that will help you “greenify” your store in the future.
You know it always pays off to have Eco-friendly products. People have a sharp eye for Eco labels these days and in terms of your store’s brand identity, going Eco-friendly will always brighten it up.
You’re concerned about the environment or you’re looking to make quick bucks? Since plastic straws are so strongly debated right now, you know people are looking at green alternatives like Eco friendly straws.
This is where you come in and sell those straw alternatives, all you have to do is source them at the manufacturing level. Shouldn’t be too hard, anybody here that sells plastic straws can easily switch to the alternative.
Remember to diligently check the background of who you’re sourcing from, they may sell products claiming to be Eco-friendly but their manufacturing process could very well do the opposite.
People in this industry are heavily capitalizing on this movement and it’s not a switch that’s likely to hurt them so much.
A Quick History of Straws
The oldest drinking straw that we ever found was unearthed in a tomb in Sumeria, dating from way back 3000 B.C. and who would have guessed? An analysis shows it was used for beer!
The specimen was a gold tube inlaid with lapis lazuli gems, pretty fancy. If they had made a personalized one for this person, I’m thinking that its introduction to man must go even further back but we’ll probably never know. There are no records because of course, they would all be degraded by now.
It was found that other civilizations used plants and bamboo as straws but for the longest time, the “technology” didn’t change. Not until the modern era:
In 1888, a certain Marvin C Stone became the first to see the commercial use of this technology. He patented the first drinking straw, which was made of paper.
Until then, the rye grass straw was most in fashion, which happens to be an Eco friendly straw, but the problem they were having is the same we are facing today. After a certain period of time in a liquid, the straw would turn to mush. The solution? Marvin innovated and made it work by coating the exterior in wax.
As industrialization kicked into full gear, manufacturers starting looking for faster and more efficient ways to create straws and when plastic hit the market, to say the least, it was a good day for them.
All sorts of plastic derivatives became useful for producing not so eco friendly plastic straws, ones such as polystyrene, polypropylene, and silicone.
We thought it was a great discovery for everyone but we wouldn’t know the environmental impact that it would have until many many years later. Which is what we’re going to look at now:
What is the Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws on our Ecosystems?
We’ve all seen the pictures and videos, who is getting the brunt of the environmental impact is our marine life, the backbone of the global ecosystem.
Plastic straws, according to Get Green Now, is the 11th most commonly found ocean plastic, it takes up to 200 years for it to degrade.
Plastic straws aren’t very bulky, they are small and resemble some type of marine life. It’s very likely to be confused with food and eaten by all sorts of life in the ocean.
1,000,000 seabirds and 100,000 marine life die each year from ingesting plastic products.
As you can see, this isn’t something to be taken lightly. Action has to be taken and not tomorrow or in 10 years, now.
Straws are made from type 5 plastic, you can see all types in my recycling article in the “how do I get started” section.
Basically, this means that it’s made of polypropylene, a plastic substance that’s not very recycled. Few recycling programs out there recycle this type of plastic. When we use type 5 straws, they’re likely to end up in the landfill or in the ocean through our waterways.
Did you know that plastic has a tendency to make it’s way to the ocean, even if you’re not nearby? Check out wasteland rebel’s article on the subject.
4 ways plastic straws negatively impact the environment
- Marine life eats them – When a bird or a turtle eats a plastic straw, it doesn’t make it out of its digestive system. What happens is, as they eat more, their stomach gets filled up with plastic and eventually there just isn’t room for food anymore. The animal will end up dying of starvation and organ failure.
- Promotes petroleum consumption – As we’re shifting away from our oil dependence, using plastic straws actually helps the oil companies because there continues to be demand for it, which justifies their new expansions and projects.
- Increase the use of energy – The process of making a straw requires significant energy, which promotes the use of fossil fuels unless of course, the energy comes from sustainable sources.
- Litters our beaches and streets – Plastic straws don’t degrade very quickly, we see them litter our streets and beaches. Since 500 million straws are used every day, this quickly increases our garbage problems.
I don’t think I have to write too much on the impact because if you’re here, it’s likely you’re already convinced it’s disastrous. Now let us move on to the next section and find the alternatives you can pick from:
Eco Friendly Straws You can pick from
You may be a manufacturer doing market research to see what your competitors have or a supermarket owner looking for a supplier or maybe perhaps a coffee shop owner ready to do the switch.
I’ve looked for you and compiled a list of good Eco friendly earth straws, with suppliers and companies that sell them (PS. Some even have free shipping!). These are the different type of straws that I found:
One Time Use Straws
A massive supplier of paper straws, with a variety of designs and custom work. Durable and FDA compliant, they are a solid choice. If not available directly, it’s even sold on Amazon.
UK made paper straws that ship globally. Simple, functional, beautiful. They can be taken anywhere and their biodegradable products leave no trace on the environment. Their production process is verified Eco-friendly.
How about harvest straws that you eat after you finish using? That sounds fun actually! Provide your guest and customers a funny and amazing experience when they see these edible straws in their drinks.
Stainless Steel Straws:
They are one of my top recommended companies to deal with when purchasing Eco-friendly products. Stainless steel straws are the perfect plastic straw alternative for restaurants.
These guys are actually a gem if you want metal straws. Check out their simple and easy to navigate website.
Final Straw: I first saw this on Shark Tank, if you’re looking for a premium reusable straw that will last you a lifetime, Final Straw is your top choice. A premium product made with eco-friendly production methods to ensure the ocean remains clean from one-time use plastic straws.
They have fun and creative glass straw designs that can work with plenty of themes which make them pretty versatile.
Highest quality reusable glass straws made in the USA. They have a large variety to choose from and will sell in bundles. An excellent choice in the plastic straw alternatives.
The first commercially available bamboo straws in 2012 and winner of Eco-choice award 2015 for an innovative product. 4.5/5 Star Review feedback from buyers.
In general, the ban on plastic straws being put into place in different areas is giving everyone a push towards converting their supplies of plastic straws to environmentally friendly straws, which in the end is great for the planet.
It’s certainly a win for the environment in many ways but might be tougher to swallow for other people. Let’s have a look:
- It’s going to help stump demand for petroleum products.
- It’ll stop the endless flow of straws into the ocean.
- It promotes innovation to develop Eco friendly straws as alternatives.
- It’s one of the needed steps to keep our ocean life healthy and plastic free.
- It brings a new fun dynamic to related industries like coffee shops and restaurant kitchens with special Eco friendly straw designs and edible replacements.
- It promotes the use of Eco friendly raw materials.
- It gives business owners a chance to reflect customer values through their products.
- Given how cheap plastic straws are, your costs are likely to go up.
- Manufactures will have to reform their processes and adapt which is likely to cost a lot and stump production.
- Manufacturers of Eco friendly straws will get a high amount of demand that they might not be able to supply right away, giving plastic straws some years to completely roll out of the shelves.
I think by now you’ve made your choice, it’s just which alternative to pick from? They all seem like good choices. It’s all up to you.
To end this straw journey, I’d like to personally thank you on behalf of myself and this sea turtle below for contributing to a positive change. You can consider yourself a 21st-century conservation hero!
Do you have any additional questions or information to share?
Leave a comment in the section below.
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