There’s a lot of debate over what corporations can do to help limit their impact on the environment. From K-cups proliferating landfills to your Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cup sticking around for years and years, to microbeads infesting our water sources, the way we consume large corporate products can directly impact our environment. Do corporations even care?
The answer is surprising. Some of the most notable corporations are making great strides to not only remain favorable in the average consumer’s eye, but to reduce their overall impact on the environment.
Three days ago, McDonald’s announced that in the UK they will be switching from plastic straws to paper ones. McDonald’s 1,361 restaurants use about 1.8 million plastic straws every day. While there is speculation that this is in direct response to the airing of Blue Planet II’s heartbreaking video of a parent bird searching for food for its young, only to come back and feed its young plastic, this is a fantastic step to reducing plastic in our environment.
When the world gets on board, real changes start to happen. Because of the UK’s ban on microbeads, microbead production was also banned in the US, and microbead usage has dropped dramatically. China earlier this year refused to take on any more garbage from outside of its country for processing. The European Union is looking at banning other single-use plastics.
What does this mean for the US?
McDonald’s has promised to begin “testing” the use of paper straws in the United States later on this year. You may also notice food and grocery chains that no longer offer plastic bags for you to bring home groceries in. Straws and stirrers have gone missing from many corporate-sponsored events. Many companies even use the corn-based biodegradable “plastic” cup (PLA) which does have a significantly shorter lifespan than traditional petroleum-based single-use cups.
You can make an impact too, however. Turn down a plastic straw at McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts. Bring reusable bags to stores when you shop, including grocers and clothing stores. Make sure that you are not placing recyclable material in with regular landfill material, and you’re not littering or polluting.
Still, paper straws are a good start to reducing our effect on the environment. We hope that paper straws make their way into the US sooner rather than later!