Starbucks has pledged to be plastic straw-free by 2020. I’ve heard it all to the familiar pessimistic beat of the 21st Century; “too little too late” “this win will distract people from the larger issue at hand” “straws don’t even make up that much plastic pollution, this accomplishes nothing” etc etc etc.
But I’m a sociologist, not an environmental scientist so I can’t remove the collective conscience from this conversation. This isn’t about Starbucks and their impact on the World. It’s about us. Starbucks has pledged to remove straws GLOBALLY by 2020. I hear people say that it won’t make a difference; they have plastic lids and plastic cups and will be producing more and more with plastic. I get their point. But these people who maintain this negative outlook are forgetting about the collective conscience. They are forgetting about how societal norms can be created. Yes, today it may just be straws. But tomorrow, someone who may not have grabbed a reusable mug on their way to work, might just grab one this time. This means that someone who wasn’t going to change their behavior on their own, has the support of a multi-billion dollar company. And that is no small feat.
Look at what we can do. When we make our voices heard. We work within the systems we are a part of and we change them from within. Never forget that the first and most important system we are a part of is ourselves, and change starts from within.
Thank you, Starbucks for reminding us that there’s more we can be doing. We can be grateful that we asked for a ban on straws in our restaurants and communities, and while Seattle may have listened, not many other cities have followed suit. But Starbucks did. They heard you and they said “if you care, we care too”.
What does a ban on straws mean for us? It means that Starbucks is challenging you by asking “you can talk the talk but will you walk the walk?” They said they’re game to play ball while we’re all patting each other on the back for winning a fight we didn’t even participate in. What this means is that big business is up for the challenge, but are you? This may be the final straw for them, but will it be the final straw for you?