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Straws Made of Seaweed Could Replace Their Plastic Nemesis
By Madison Dapcevich
A startup called Loliware is thinking outside of the plastic box and introducing an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws. Soon "hyper-compostable" seaweed straws — that "look, feel, and act like plastic" — could be heading to a store shelf near you.
Americans use between 170 and 390 million straws a day. To combat this, the Kickstarter-funded single-use seaweed straws are designed to disappear and biodegrade like a banana peel, breaking down in just a few weeks when in the water. Made from 100 percent food grade materials, the gluten-free, non-GMO, sugar-free marine degradable straws can withstand 18 hours of continuous use.
"Every piece of plastic ever created still exists," wrote CEO Chelsea Briganti in a statement sent to EcoWatch. "There are five trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans; an estimated ten million tons of plastic is produced every second. Single use plastics should never be built to last, they should be designed to disappear."
Not only are the straws edible, but their creators also write that they are sustainably developed using seaweed, which is a regenerative resource capable of sequestering carbon dioxide in an effort to curb the effects of climate change. Alternatives to plastic straws include paper straws, which cost three times as much to produce as their plastic counterparts and require tree-based resources. Eco-friendly replacements like reusable metal or glass straws are made to last, which is both a blessing when it comes to eliminating plastic straw consumption but a curse in reducing further waste.
Because they have a shelf life of up to 24 months and break down at the same rate as food waste — roughly 60 days or less — Loliware says its goal is to completely replace plastic straws used at high-waste venues like stadiums and fast-food restaurants.
Plastic straws have come under scrutiny around the world as they are among the estimated eight million tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year. Even so, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Plastic has been found on every continent, including Antarctica, and at the bottom of the world's deepest oceans. In fact, less than one in ten single-use plastics ever make it to a recycling facility.
Consumer and corporate accountability advocates have responded by pressuring major companies to eliminate their plastic use. Trader Joe's announced that it will be making plans to eliminate more than 1 million pounds of plastic from its stores, including eliminating single-use plastic carryout bags and replacing produce bags and Styrofoam meat trays with biodegradable and compostable options. Likewise, last summer Starbucks became the largest food and beverage retailer to ban plastic straws with a full phase out expected by 2020.
Loliware's seaweed straws have exceeded their $30,000 goal by nearly $20,000 between almost 1,100 backers.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Melissa Kravitz
Can't stop eating that bag of chips until you're licking the salt nestled in the corners of the empty package from your fingers? You're not alone. And it's not entirely your fault that the intended final handful of chips was not, indeed, your last for that snacking session. Many common snack foods have been expertly engineered to keep us addicted, almost constantly craving more of whatever falsely satisfying manufactured treat is in front of us.
By Kim Knowlton
A new paper just out in The Lancet Planetary Health provides the first global indication that recent temperature increases, propelled by climate change, are in fact contributing significantly to longer and more intense pollen seasons.
EcoWatch is pleased to announce its second photo contest! Earth Day is happening on April 22nd, and this year's theme is "Protect Our Species." With that in mind, we want EcoWatchers to show us your photographs of creatures that inhabit Earth. Send us your best photos of species you value.
By Julia Conley
In propping up the coal industry, the Trump administration is not only contributing to dangerous pollution, fossil fuel emissions and the climate crisis, it is also now clinging to a far more expensive energy production model than renewable energy offers.
That's according to a new report from renewable energy analysis firm Energy Innovation, showing that about three-quarters of power produced by the nation's remaining coal plants is more expensive for American households than renewables including wind, solar and hydro power.
At least 19 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in flash flooding in the south of Iran, the country's semi-official Tasnim News Agency said. The city of Shiraz in Fars province was the worst hit by the flooding, which occurred after a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation has decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
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