Starbucks recently announced that they had plans to get rid of their single-use plastic straws for beverages entirely by 2020. Instead, the company will be using "sippy cup" lids that are recycleable and will be offering straws made from more sustainable materials “including paper or compostable plastic.”
Of course, environmental concerns have been growing with each passing day, and straws are a massive concern because of their detrimental and long lasting effects on a variety of ecosystems. Plastic straws contain materials that cannot biodegrade fully or be recycled, and they often clutter landfills and oceans. Once tossed away, straws can be ingested by animals or clog their airways (we've all seen that video of the turtle with the straw up his nose), leading to injury or even death for our scaly, furry, or feathered friends.
As of right now, Starbucks still serves beverages with straws and still provides them throughout their stores for customer use, but most locations also offer the option to forego a straw in favor of a sippy cup lid.
Being an animal lover, a loyal Starbucks customer, and someone who generally works to reduce her ecological footprint, I was thrilled when I saw the stack of sippy cup lids in my local café. I've been using Starbucks' sippy cup lids for a little over a week now, and it has been... an experience, to say the least.
My first day ditching the signature green straw in my iced coffee was as bittersweet as a caramel macchiato. Walking around with the eco-friendly cup was a great reminder throughout my morning to make other environmentally conscious decisions. Somehow, making an active decision first thing in the morning to do something positive for the earth lead to a chain reaction. I remembered to bring reusable bags when grocery shopping, and opted to purchase produce that was packaging free, and I decided to light a few candles and read a book upon arriving home, instead of plugging in some fairy lights and turning on the TV like usual. BUT, I found that the sippy cups were not particularly easy to drink out of. Something about the shape of the opening made it really difficult to get the beverage from the cup into my mouth, and I literally destroyed a white tank top with several spills.
The next few days were about the same. Struggling to drink out of the new lids lead to three more coffee-stained tops, but the eco-conscious choices continued. I made an effort to use less water, keep more lights and technology turned off at home, and even made a stop at Lush to pick up some packaging-free bath and body products. I will say, there is a definite learning curve to the sippy cup lids, and by day 4, we were down to only one very minor spillage that was easily fixable with a napkin and some water. Finally, by day 5, I was spill-free and drinking from a sippy cup like a true professional (my five-year-old self would be proud).
So, what's the (Shaken Iced Passion Tango) tea about going strawless in favor of a more eco-friendly sippy cup? I would never do it again... BECAUSE I've purchased a reusable cup for my morning beverages. In a pinch, I would 100% request a sippy cup lid over a plastic straw, not just for the immediate benefit of saving a turtle (or two), but because of the greater impact that it had on my overall mindset. In fact, I'll even be getting some natural and environmentally friendly detergent to clean all of my royally messed up shirts (washed in cold water and hung to dry of course!).