Plastic straws
Photo: Pexels

Earth Day was in April, but people are striving to treat Mother Earth better every day — whether it’s a brewery making beer out of wastewater, a Florida startup creating biodegradable six pack rings or cities, like NYC, banning styrofoam. Now, McDonald’s has announced it will be replacing plastic straws with paper ones.

This change will start in September and affect all 1,361 of its U.K. and Ireland locations where, according to CNN Money, they use a total of 1.8 million straws each day. The shift to paper straws will be complete by 2019, the company said in a news release.

"McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good and working to find sustainable solutions for plastic straws globally," said Executive VP, Global Supply Chain and Sustainability Francesca DeBiase. "…We hope this work will support industry wide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale."

In addition, McDonald’s will begin testing paper straws in select locations in the U.S., France, Sweden, Norway and Australia. Metro has reached out for more details on this timeline.

This move, "supports McDonald’s goal to source 100% of guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025 and to have guest packaging recycling in all restaurants globally."

Other chains like Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger made the switch to paper straws earlier this year. And, big brands like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and 39 others have pledged to cut back on plastic pollution as well.

Why are plastic straws bad?

Plastic straws are the sixth most common type of litter worldwide, according to the environmental app Litterati.

They’re bad because, for one, they’re dangerous (read: deadly) for the marine population like sea turtles, fish and even seabirds.

The Strawless Ocean campaign, developed by the Lonely Whale, reported that Americans use over 500 million plastic straws every day — and more than 100 million members of marine life are killed each year due to plastic debris.

If you haven’t watched this viral video from a while back, see what plastic straws can do to a sea turtle:

Many plastic straws — and other types of plastic — stick around in the environment indefinitely.

Only 1 percent of plastic straws can be recycled, according to CNN Money, mainly because they consist of polystyrene, which chemically and mechanically cannot be recycled.

Additionally, most are too lightweight to make it through recycling sorters — they drop through screens and get disposed as garbage, according to Strawless Ocean. This makes the chances of plastic straws winding up in our waters even greater.

If we don’t diminish the use of such materials, there will be more plastic in the earth’s oceans than fish by the year 2050. Think about that.

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