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We get it. Balloons are fun and make great decorations. But we hate to burst your bubble—balloons can be a big problem when they are deliberately released into the environment.
The litter is not only a blight on landscapes, waterways, trees and power lines, but balloons and balloon strings can entangle, choke or kill marine life and other animals. That's not to mention the wasteful use of helium, a non-renewable resource.
Acting Sub Lt.niwat Thumma / EyeEm / Getty Images
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Bacardi, the world's largest privately-owned spirits company, and Lonely Whale, the innovative oceans nonprofit helping Alaska Airlines reduce plastic use, have teamed up with the goal of removing one billion plastic straws from circulation by 2020.
The pair announced their partnership Wednesday under the banner #thefuturedoesntsuck. As part of the initiative, Bacardi will also review its supply chain to see where it can eliminate other single-use plastics.
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.
Momentum is building in the war against single-use plastics. In the past week, a slew of major companies—including SeaWorld parks, American Express, cruise company Royal Caribbean, IKEA, A&W Canada and Burger King UK—have pledged to eliminate items such as plastic drinking straws, stirrers, lids and bags in efforts to protect our oceans and their inhabitants.
The European Union's executive arm targeted the products that are most often found on the continent's beaches and seas, which together account for 70 percent of its marine litter.
"There are 500 million straws being used everyday in the U.S.," Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., the bill's lead sponsor, told NY1 on Thursday. "That's enough to fill Yankee Stadium five times over."
The proposal, published in an SEC filing in April, would have required the fast food giant to prepare a report on the business risks of using plastic straws, and the company's efforts to develop and implement more sustainable alternatives in its restaurants.
By Mathy Stanislaus
If you need motivation to skip the straw at lunch today, consider this: Scientists found that even Arctic sea ice—far removed from most major metropolitan areas—is no longer plastic-free. According to Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson of the British Antarctic Survey, "this suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world's ocean. Nowhere is immune."
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.