Alaska Airlines Launches #StrawlessSkies Campaign
As part of its worldwide push "For a Strawless Ocean," Alaska Airlines announced Monday that its 44 million yearly passengers will fly in "strawless skies."
Starting July 16, the leading U.S. airline on the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index will stop distributing single-use plastic stirring straws and citrus picks in its lounges and on its domestic and international flights. It is the the first U.S. airline to do so. The non-recyclable items, which the airline distributed 22 million of last year, will be replaced with Forest Stewardship Council certified birch stirring sticks and bamboo citrus pickers.
To carry out this initiative, Alaska Airlines is partnering with Lonely Whale, a Seattle non-profit that focuses on market-based solutions to protect the ocean. The group launched a public resource on combating plastic pollution last year called "For a Strawless Ocean."
"The banning of single-use plastic beverage straws sets a new standard for the travel industry, and we couldn't be happier that Alaska Airlines is the first. U.S. airline to lead the charge," Lonely Whale Executive Director Dune Ives said in a press release.
Alaska Airlines said the move was part of a larger push to reduce landfill-bound inflight waste per passenger by 70 percent by 2020.
"Without a doubt, we fly to some of the most beautiful places on earth, including many communities that depend on healthy oceans. We're thrilled to partner with Lonely Whale to take this next step in our sustainability journey, and help keep the places we live and fly beautiful for years to come," Alaska Airlines' vice president of external relations Diana Birkett Rakow said.
In addition to phasing out plastic straws and picks, the airline has replaced glass beer bottles with aluminum cans, which are easier to recycle, and began refilling plastic cups during drink service instead of providing new ones. Since 2010, the airline has reduced its landfill waste per passenger by 54 percent.
The airline's most recent sustainability move comes after 16-year-old Girl Scout Shelby O'Neil contacted the company about the negative environmental impacts of plastic straws, Fortune reported. The airline said it had already been considering the move when they received O'Neil's request.
"I am so proud of Alaska Airlines for joining me, Lonely Whale and many others in the fight to protect our oceans," O'Neil told Fortune. "My hope is that we can continue to rally together and inspire future generations to take a stand and eliminate plastic pollution to help save our oceans."Outside the U.S., other airlines have taken action on plastic pollution. Fiji and Thai Airways have promised to reduce single-use plastics and Ryanair intends to be "plastic-free" by 2023, Condé Nast Traveler reported.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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