500+ million plastic straws are used and discarded daily in the United States. American Airlines, Bon Appétit Management (on-site restaurants), Hilton, HMSHost (airport food-service), Hyatt, IKEA, Royal Caribbean International, SeaWorld, Starbucks and Walt Disney Company have announced plans to stop using single-use plastic straws. For example Marriot will be removing them from all their properties eliminating approximately 1 billion straws annually.
Some companies are switching instead to an eco-friendly paper straw alternative. Finding show that discarded plastic straws in the oceans are a danger to sea creatures especially sea turtles. Alaska Airlines was convinced by a Girl Scout to switch to a marine-friendly alternative. Santa Barbara has threatened “time in the slammer” for those who distribute straws, while San Francisco prohibits one of the biodegradable alternatives.
There also is a fear that environmental policies causing drinking straw bans don’t consider people with disabilities who rely on plastic straws as tool of daily life. Sturdy plastic straws can sometimes be the difference between independence and needing help to drink for people with hardship conditions like cerebral palsy.