Starbucks Becomes Largest Food and Beverage Retailer to Announce Plastic Straw Ban
Starbucks announced Monday it would become the largest food and beverage retailer to phase out plastic straws, aiming to complete the process at locations worldwide by 2020, CNN Money reported. The decision will remove more than one billion straws from circulation annually, the company said.
Starbucks' decision comes little over a week after a ban on plastic straws in its birth city of Seattle went into effect July 1.
"For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement reported by the Huffington Post.
Instead, the coffee company will roll out a recyclable strawless lid. It will still offer paper or compostable plastic straws with blended Frappuccino drinks or by customer request.
Eight million metric tons (approximately 8.2 million U.S. tons) of plastic a year end up in the world's oceans, Nicholas Mallos of the Ocean Conservancy told CNN Money. In its most recent count, the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup found that plastic straws and stirrers were number seven on its list of the 10 most collected types of beach trash.
Starbucks isn't the first company to announce a ban on plastic straws in reaction to growing global concern over the impact of ocean plastics on marine life. Hyatt also announced Monday that, starting Sept. 1, plastic straws and drink picks would only be available upon request, CNN Money reported. Alaska Airlines will stop distributing plastic stirring straws and drink picks July 16, and McDonald's announced in March it would stop using plastic straws in UK restaurants.
Environmental groups praised the coffee chain's decision.
"Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species," director of sustainability research & development and material science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S. Erin Simon said in a statement reported by CNN Money. "We hope others will follow in [Starbucks'] footsteps."
Starbucks will begin offering its strawless plastic lids in stores in Seattle and Vancouver this fall. Eight thousand stores n the U.S. and Canada already stock the lids, the Huffington Post reported.
Starbucks Global Research & Development engineer Emily Alexander, who originally designed the lid to showcase the company's Draft Nitro drink, was thrilled to learn of her design's wider rollout.
"I am really excited to have developed something that can be part of this big transformation of going strawless," she said in a Starbucks press release. "It was this very small thing and now it is so much bigger and more impactful."
A Starbucks spokeswoman said in an email to the Huffington Post that customers seemed to like the new lids.
"We've had great feedback from customers and partners (employees) so far, and we'll continue to take customer feedback and adjust as we move along," she wrote.
She also said the company would not raise prices because of the transition, saying the investment would have a "net-neutral impact for our business by 2020."
Seattle's Ban on Plastic Straws, Utensils Begins July 1 https://t.co/JcTmgkv4Ic @NRDC @PlasticPollutes @5gyres… https://t.co/etstaRQKJS— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1529504925.0
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By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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