Straws Made of Seaweed Could Replace Their Plastic Nemesis
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.
White Sox Become First MLB Team to Ban Plastic Straws https://t.co/NQO87D25lW @savingoceans @PlasticPollutes— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1525815307.0
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.