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Multicolored balloons flying to the sky. Jakkree Thampitakkull / Getty Images

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.

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Acting Sub Lt.niwat Thumma / EyeEm / Getty Images

The movement to ban plastic straws has gained major momentum this month, with Seattle's ban going into effect July 1 and companies like Starbucks, Hyatt and American Airlines all agreeing to phase the sucking devices out as well.

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London-based artist Sarah Tanat Jones created a set of illustrations specifically for the collaboration.

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.

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The new strawless lids that will replace straws in Starbucks worldwide. Starbucks

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.

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Kai Schreiber / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

SeaWorld Entertainment announced Thursday, right before World Oceans Day, that all 12 of its theme parks have removed all single-use plastic drinking straws and shopping bags.

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One More Generation

By John R. Platt

Sometimes a couple of kids can help change the world.

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At least 700,000 tons of abandoned fishing gear enter the oceans each year. Pixabay

In an ambitious effort to stop ocean pollution, the European Commission on Monday proposed banning the 10 most common single-use plastic products as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

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.

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Aardvark

Last week, New York City lawmakers introduced a bill banning plastic straws in all bars and restaurants in the Big Apple, joining the growing worldwide war against this environmental scourge.

"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."

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Calgary Reviews / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

McDonald's shareholders rejected a proposal to take the first step in banning plastic straws at its 36,000 outlets worldwide.

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.

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Taz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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."

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Alaska Airlines

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.

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