In July, Seattle was the first large city to ban single use plastic straws and plastic utensils with the threat of a $250 fine to businesses and companies that refuse to comply. Subsequently, California became the first state to propose bans on straw distribution at restaurant tables. These actions are being put in place in order to improve marine wildlife and the environment as a whole. In light of this current outbreak of awareness on the issue of straws and plastic, corporations like Starbucks, Aramark, and American Airlines are no longer offering plastic straws and single use utensils.

“Most customers like the new cold brew lids because it makes drinking easier,” Starbucks barista and senior Jordan Jurisprudencia said. “I have gotten some complaints from customers saying that they don’t like them because if they’re driving it’s prone to spill. For the most part though, the new lids are pretty popular and favored by most people.”

As Starbucks is the largest coffee chain in the world, their contribution is an immense help to increase awareness of the overuse of plastic and to programs like the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program. With Starbucks’ popularity, they hope to strike inspiration for other companies.

“I appreciate our efforts toward an eco friendly environment,” Jurisprudencia said. “I think it’s really sneaky and clever of Starbucks to slowly ease into strawless lids with cold brews considering it’s one of our more popular drinks.”

The reason plastic pollution has been such a popular subject is the talk of plastic straws killing sea turtles. Not only sea turtles are being affected by the littering of plastic into oceans, marine wildlife as a whole have been impacted. However, there are many other reasons plastic waste affects the environment.

“Straws aren’t biodegradable and they are made from oil which is a non-renewable source,” Aquatic Science student and junior Brent Eastman said. “By using less straws we are using less oil, and since they do not break down, they not only interrupt ecosystems but they cause harm to all forms of marine life.”

The main issue with using alternatives to plastic is the price difference. Regular plastic is a lot less expensive than alternatives such as plant based plastic, bagasse (fibrous matter from crushed sugar cane), or mushroom root. In addition, alternatives require a lot more labor to produce, further increasing its price.

“I’m willing to pay more money for alternatives because I believe they’ll save more in the long run,” Environmental Club President and senior Kailen Vargas said. “I own metal straws which I always carry in my purse. I even carry a few for friends to use when we go out. A lot of people will use straws in restaurants because they don’t trust the cleanliness of the cup and I feel that my investment of metal straws not only allows me to stop using straws but helps me encouraging others to do the same.”

With little changes everyday, whether it be through the utilization of reusable grocery bags, reusable cups, or straws, use of plastic will decrease substantially.

“There are so many things each of us can do to reduce our ecological footprint,” Vargas said. “It just takes a little dedication, sacrifice, and education to do it.”