Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, and Disney theme parks all recently decided to ditch plastic straws. These companies are joining a global movement to reduce plastic waste.
Plastic straws are single-use. That means people throw them away after using them only once. The straws easily get blown out of trash cans. Along with other single-use plastics, straws often end up in the sea. Experts say as much as 9 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year.
Getting rid of plastic straws is one way to help. Starbucks plans to replace them with straws made of paper and other materials that are better for the environment. The company says it will eliminate 1 billion plastic straws each year worldwide.
But other experts argue that straws are only a small part of our plastic waste problem. By one estimate, plastic straws make up less than half of 1 percent of the plastic in the ocean.
Plus, for a lot of people, life without plastic straws can be dangerous. Many people with injuries or disabilities have a hard time drinking safely from a cup without a bendable plastic straw.