There is a trend in the food industry that is sneaking up on everyone. It's not cold brew, or rainbow grilled cheese: it's the replacement of plastic drinking straws.
The straw revolution is inevitable, and you're going to have to get used to it, whether you like it or not.
One of the biggest signs that plastic straws are on their way out, is what McDonald's just did.
The largest burger chain in the world just completely ousted plastic straws from all of its United Kingdom restaurants, and replaced them with paper straws. It wasn't just a public relations stunt, and it wasn't just at select stores. It was implemented at every single one of McDonald's 1,300 U.K. locations.
It's an ice cold reality that you can expect when ordering an ice cold Coke in the U.K.
As McDonald's showed, one of plastic's main replacements have been paper straws, and while you can still argue that paper has its own waste issues, other options have shown to be popular in the restaurant industry, as well.
Like Angelenos have probably noticed on their cocktails, reusable stainless steel straws are a popular alternative. These straws eliminate the waste issues from both plastic and paper, and can be re-used like any other dishware.
Or, like Starbucks has shown with their new sippy cup lids, you can say f*ck the straw altogether and drink your beverages like a toddler.
If you're wondering what's the beef with straws, one of the most brutal examples of its terrifying effects, comes from a 2015 video of a marine biologist trying to remove a straw stuck up a turtle's nostril.
The graphic video taken by Texas A&M marine biologist Christine Figgener shows a poor turtle in Costa Rica crying and struggling to breathe for minutes, as Figgener tries to extract the plastic straw.
The turtle literally bleeds from its nose ala Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, and the image is quite disheartening.
Sure, that is only one documented instance, but it shows just how easily wildlife can be harmed by an object that is overflowing in our oceans.
According to StrawFree.org, Americans use more than 500 million plastic straws a day and they are one of the top 10 pieces of garbage found in the ocean. As a result, over 1 million sea birds are killed by plastic every year, and about 100,000 marine mammals lose their lives, as well.
If you need more proof that plastic straws will soon be a thing of the past, Seattle just banned plastic straws. Period. As of July 1, 2018, food businesses in the the major city are no longer allowed to use plastic straws or even plastic utensils in their establishments.
It would be one thing if this ban took place in a small town like Bozeman, Montana, but Seattle is the 15th largest city in the U.S. with nearly 4 million residents who will be affected by the straw prohibition.
Seattle isn't alone, as Malibu, California set up its own straw ban that took effect June 1. Even New York City, with its 8 million residents, is proposing a straw ban by 2020.
Of course, not everyone completely buys the notion that straws are such a monstrous, dangerous killer.
The New York Post argued that there is no real scientific evidence to show that straws, in particular, are the pin-pointed problem. The issue is creeping up on New York, and they feel some type of way about it, especially since they've already had a Styrofoam ban that will be enforced on January 1, 2019.
Dune Ives, Executive Director at Lonely Whale, the organization that pushed Seattle's straw ban, admitted that it's not really about the straws. Ives told Vox that it is about plastic in general, and the straws are just a conscious reminder of how much single-use plastic we use in our daily lives.
The straw ban, at least in Seattle, is an effort to make people more environmentally conscious.
Still, the world seems to be gravitating toward those efforts and running wild with them.
Over 200,000 people signed a petition for McDonald's to do away with plastic straws in the U.S., just as the U.K. did. While they came up 6,000 signatures short of their 210,000 goal, it still shows how much people suddenly care about this issue.
TL;DR- Staw bans are coming, and they're coming fast.
I'm not an environmentalist trying to convince you that the earth is burning, and we're headed for inevitable doom (although we probably are). I just see trends in the food world and write about them. I'm trying to let you know that this is absolutely happening.
Hopefully you're not too attached to your good ol' plastic straws, because its days are numbered, whether it's now, a year from now, or 10 years from now.
Will this move completely save our oceans? Probably not, but it's a start to making us aware of the egregious plastic problem.
Get your lips ready for a soft paper sip, or a cold steel one, and enjoy your plastic experience while you still can.