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Californians Vote to Reduce Plastic Waste in 2020

We know plastic waste affects everyone and every place, and California’s no exception. People want change, but what happens when the politicians can’t seem to take action? Petitions go out, signatures come in, and the people exercise their right to vote. When it comes to reducing single-use plastics, this scenario might just be on the horizon.

 

A Bay Area waste hauler and several environmental groups are aiming to put plastic reduction on the California ballot. Citing Sacramento’s failure to act, they hope California voters choose to finally cut down on plastic waste. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we know nothing wakes up politicians quite like a public referendum. 

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Third Bill's The Charm?

Plastic waste chokes marine habitats and overwhelms recycling facilities. While there are many plastic culprits,  single-use plastics are among the worst. They only get used once, but they litter the environment forever. Think plastic straws or food packaging, and then you’ll realize how pervasive single-use plastics really are. Unless companies are compelled to use biodegradable alternatives, then they have no incentive to cut out single-use plastics. 

This year, California’s State Legislature in Sacramento had the opportunity to pass bills to limit single-use plastics. The bills would have required manufacturers to take responsibility for plastics they produce. Manufacturers would have needed to make fully recyclable or compostable materials, and limit single-use plastics. These two bills, however, failed to get the necessary votes, and died at the state capitol.

The New Recycling Bill Explained

That’s where this new bill comes in, and it goes further than those two dead plastic waste bills. Under the proposed bill, all plastic packaging and single-use foodware items must be recyclable or compostable by 2030. There will also be up to a 1 cent manufacturer fee for making plastic items and packaging. This fee will go to building composting and recycling facilities, and pay for beach cleanups. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we like seeing legislation that both addresses single-use plastic, and deals with the waste issue. The plastic waste bill must have 623,212 signatures by April 2020, in order to be on the November ballot. Behind this ballot effort is Recology, a waste hauling company based in San Francisco. Recology focuses on sustainable waste management practices, and supporting this initiative demonstrates their corporate social responsibility. 

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Stay Vigilant, Californians!

OkStraw welcomes this initiative, here’s our warning to fellow Californians. If the initiative gets on the ballot, then get ready for a PR onslaught from plastic companies. Plastic industry lobbyist groups will try to kill a plastic recycling bill, just like they did in Sacramento. One of these lobbyist groups is Californians for Recycling and the Environment (CRE). 

During the debate in Sacramento, CRE warned that the two recycling bills would hurt Californians by banning products like dog food and toothpaste. These were nothing but scare tactics, but the damage was done. Misinformed lawmakers feared backlash from their constituents, and killed the bills. Unless California residents know the truth about this recycling bill, then they’ll fall victim to these scare tactics too. 

Paper Straws for a Sustainable California

From us at OkStraw to our fellow Californians: Don’t believe the scary stories plastics companies tell you. This recycling bill won’t take away your toothpaste and dog food, it will hold plastic companies accountable. If we want to heal our oceans and fight climate change, then we need to recycle all plastic, and replace it when we can. 

Fortunately, great biodegradable alternatives to plastic are out there, and our paper straws are one of them. OkStraw Paper Straws never need special composting, and come from sustainable forestry practices. From ADA-compliant paper bendy straws to paper bubble tea straws, there’s a biodegradable straw for every drink. So California, get to the polls, voice your support for recycling, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

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Nestlé, Tim Hortons Canada’s Top Plastic Polluters

Tim Hortons and Nestle Plastic Waste

Greenpeace Canada just named Neslté and Tim Hortons as the country’s top two plastic polluters. The NGO ranked these two offenders by branded plastic items volunteers collected from beaches, and 2019 marks their second year for topping the list. 

Starbucks, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola rounded out Greenpeace’s top 5 list, after Nestle and Tim Hortons. As with other countries, large corporations are huge contributors to plastic waste in Canada. We at OkStraw Paper Straw hope this news encourages more Canadians to demand for greater corporate responsibility. 

Plastic Pollution

Greenpeace ranked these top Canadian polluters based on branded items identified during shore and beach cleanups, as part of the global Break Free from Plastic movement. These beach cleanups took place in cities across Canada, including Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. 

Greenpeace Canada comprised a top 10 list of most collected pieces of plastic waste in Canada. The list includes food wrappers, cigarette filters, bags, and packaging. Ranking in 4th place were plastic straws. This list doesn’t surprise us at OkStraw Paper Straws, since so many North Americans use plastic straws. In the US alone, people use 500 million straws every day.

Where's the Corporate Responsibility?

In response to Greenpeace’s scathing report, these five companies explained their efforts to limit plastic waste in Canada. Their efforts include using recyclable plastics, and switching to compostable items. Are these efforts this enough, though? The short answer is “no”, according to Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada’s plastics campaign. 

King explains that using recyclable plastics isn’t enough if people don’t properly dispose of them. Using compostables isn’t enough either, because Greenpeace still found intact items like bioplastic cutlery on beaches. Unlike true biodegradables like OkStraw paper straws, many compostables still need to be broken down through industrial facilities. Because these companies consistently rank as top plastic polluters in Canada, they clearly aren’t doing enough.

Paper Straws for a Plastic-free Canada

With Prime Minister Trudeau’s government pledging to ban single-use plastics, these corporations have their work cut out. While these corporations need to improve, what changes can the average Canadian make? We at OkStraw Paper Straws believe more than you think. You can cut down on plastic waste in Canada by switching reusable and biodegradable alternatives. 

Bring your own coffee cup , shop with you own reusable bag, and replace single-use plastics with biodegradable alternatives. OkStraw’s biodegradable paper straws break down naturally. That means no special processing, and no littering Canadian beaches. So to our Neighbors to the North, demand corporate responsibility, ditch single-use plastics, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

unilever corporate social responisibility okstraw paper straws

Unilever Cuts New Plastics Use in Half

Unilever and Eliminating Plastic Waste

If you have ever used a food or cosmetic product, chances are Unilever made it. Based out of the UK, Unilever is one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, and it owns hundreds of brands. While massive, however, Unilever still need to meet consumer demands for corporate social responsibility. Today, rampant consumerism is out, and ethnical consumption is in.

Which is why Unilever is addressing its plastic usage problem. In response to demands from young consumers, Unilever will halve the 700,000 tons of new plastic it uses annually. Setting 2025 as its goal, Unilever will both use more recycled plastic, and cut down on plastic packaging. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we’re excited to see another corporation embrace social responsibility, and cut out unnecessary plastic waste. 

There's Too Much Plastic Waste Here Already

If you’re up to date with the news, then you’ll know that plastics threaten our planet. Large plastics kill marine animals, and they break down into microplastics. Microplastics get into our oceans, ground, air, and even our bodies. Thanks to new innovations, however, we can now harvest and recycle microplastics in the ocean. We already have too many plastics little our planet, so recycling what’s already here is a big social responsibility. 

 

Unlike recycled plastics, new or “virgin” plastics are made from freshly extracted oil. Using virgin plastics both adds to the amount already choking our planet, and contributes to climate change. All of these reasons are more than enough to cut out virgin plastics, and recycle what’s already here. While OkStraw Paper Straws wants all companies to eventually phase out plastic, we support Unilever switching to recycled plastic.

The People Want Corporate Social Responsibility

If the environment wasn’t enough for Unilever to change, then consumer demand should be. Nowadays, making a good product isn’t enough to bring in loyal customers. More and more people, especially millennials, want to buy from socially responsible companies. In the US alone, 59 percent of shoppers polled said they value a company’s social stances. 

By cutting is plastics usage, Unilever demonstrates its social responsibility. As a result, Unilever will both protect the planet, and bring in more ethical consumers. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we can’t think of a better two-for-one deal. While phasing out plastics should be Unilever’s goal, halving them is a great step toward achieving it.

Going Naked for the Planet

In order to reduce its plastics usage, Unilever will roll out more “naked products”. Naked products are named such because they aren’t clothed in unnecessary plastic packaging. Unnecessary plastic packing hurts the environment, so cutting it out is a welcome change. 

Other socially responsible companies already do this, like cosmetics maker LushWe also practice sustainable packaging at OkStraw Paper Straws. We offer either naked or paper-wrapped straws, and use biodegradable Kraft paper packaging. Naked products both cut out plastic waste, and save money in packaging costs. 

Let's Give Plastic the Boot

While we at OkStraw Paper Straws believe in cutting out plastics altogether, we applaud Unilever for making changes. Ending virgin plastics both fights climate change, and challenges us to recycle more. We already don’t recycle enough in Western countries, so ending virgin plastics will force us to do better.

With the European Union phasing out single-use plastics by 2021, Unilever’s announcement couldn’t come sooner. We at OkStraw Paper Straws are excited to see a big corporation get with the times, and lead by example. While small businesses like OkStraw do our part to heal the planet, we need the big companies on board with us. So we invite Unilever to cut out plastic, embrace social responsibility, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

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New Method Recycles ALL Plastic Waste

New Method Recycles ALL Plastic Waste

By now, you’re probably well aware that there’s too much plastic waste littering our planet. There’s plastic in the ocean, plastic in the air, and even plastic in the soil. Clearly we don’t need any new plastic, so we need to recycle what’s here.

A research group in Sweden just discovered a new method of recycling plastics. What’s even more exciting is that this method can recycle all plastics. While we at OkStraw Paper Straws encourage switching to biodegradable alternatives, we’re excited to hear about this new plastic recycling method.

Too Much Plastics Already

Plastic waste is hurting our planet, and in more ways than we ever thought. Not only do plastic straws kill marine animals, but now microplastics in soil hurt earthworms, endangering food supplies. Clearly, we don’t need any more new plastics littering our planet, so let’s manage what’s already here. 

 

Corporations like Unilever are swearing off virgin plastics, and are halving their plastic usage. Whereas companies like OkStraw Paper Straws offer biodegradable alternatives to plastic. But what about reusing plastic waste? New approaches for microplastics harvesting like Ocean Cleanup show promise, but we need a serious step up in recycling.

A Game-Changing Method

Solving the plastic recycling issue now shows real promise, thanks to Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Professor Henrik Thunman and his research group experimented by heating up plastics, breaking them down into carbon atoms. Thunman’s group then captured these atoms, and rendered them back into new-quality plastic. 

The results from Chalmers research group are an eye opener. Not only does this method yield new plastic, but it also can recycle all forms of plastics. This means flimsy, non-recyclable items like plastic straws and bags can now be recycled using this method. While we at OkStraw Paper Straws believe people should transition away from plastic, these results show incredible promise.

 

okstraw - microplastic pollution - plastic waste - no plastic - end plastic pollution 2

A Win-Win Recycling Solution

This plastic recycling method shows great potential to fight plastic waste for two major reasons. Firstly, because this method yields new-quality plastics, so there’s even less reason to use virgin plastics. 

Secondly, since all plastics are recyclable, there’s a huge economic incentive for harvesting plastics, and against dumping them. As much as we detest plastics at OkStraw Paper Straws, this recycling method is one of the best ideas we’ve seen so far.

Responsible Plastic Recycling

Now make no mistake, we at OkStraw Paper Straws still believe people should switch from plastic to biodegradable alternatives. However, we do realize that the road to a plastic-free future is a long one that requires transitions. Therefore, we must do everything we can to recover plastic from the environment, and repurpose it responsibly. 

 

Responsible plastic repurposing to OkStraw Paper Straws means not making more plastic bags or plastic straws. Let’s only recycle plastic into items that aren’t single use, and switch to biodegradable alternatives for items that are. Switching to paper straws and paper foodware cuts down on plastic to recover, and energy to recycle it. So do your part, pass on those single-use plastics, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

Irish Teen Removes Microplastics in Water

Removing microplastics in water is a colossal challenge

Microplastics pose huge threat to our planet, and they’re everywhere. Along with being in the air and soil, microplastics in the ocean harm marine animals and humans. Removing microplastics in water is a colossal challenge, but thankfully, a new solution is here.

This new solution comes from teenager and winner of Google’s Science Fair contest, Fiann Ferreira. Both practical and highly effective, Ferreira’s microplastic harvesting method is exactly what our planet needs. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we can’t wait to see Ferreira’s method take to the waters, and fight this microplastic menace.

Microplastics: Why They're Terrible

We at OkStraw Paper Straws talk about macroplastics like plastic straws, and they’re certainly a big problem. However,  microplastics are a lurking threat, and they’re literally everywhere. In fact, scientists regularly find microplastics in the most unexpected places, like the Arctic Circle. While they’re less than 5mm in size, microplastics are a Goliath that we must confront.

 

Microplastics can come from microbeads in body washes, fibers from clothes, and even foodware like plastic straws. Unlike sustainable paper straws, plastic straws never biodegrade, and break down into microplastics. People ingest microplastics from either eating fish that swallowed them, or by drinking contaminated water. If we don’t want microplastics in our bodies, then we need to get them out of the water.

 

Ferreira's Magnetic Success

Scientists and engineers introduced a number solutions to remove microplastics from water. The Ocean Cleanup Device shows promise, but is there another way to harvest microplastics? As of July, that answer is a resounding yes, and it comes from 18-year-old Fionn Ferreira. 

A teenager from Ireland, Ferreira created a “ferrofluid” by mixing biodegradable vegetable oil and magnetite powder. This ferrofluid attached itself to microplastics in the water, making them magnetic. Ferreria then used a powerful magnet to draw out these magnetized microplastics. The results were astounding, with an 87% success rate! Ferreira certainly impressed the judges at Google’s Science Fair, who awarded him first place price, and a cool $50,000.

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How You Can Stop Microplastics

Ferreira’s method is real winner, because it’s both effective and practical. Afterall, what good is a solution if we can’t put it to use? We at OkStraw Paper Straws believe that thanks to Fionn Ferreira, the battle against microplastics is halfway over. Why do we at OkStraw Paper Straws say “halfway over”, though? Well, if we want to end microplastic waste, then we need to stop making more of it. 

If we cut out single-use plastics, then there will be far few microplastics in the ocean. Biodegradable alternatives are a great solution, but they weren’t always that good. All of that changed, however, thanks to innovative companies like OkStraw Paper Straws. Today, you can get paper straws that outperform their plastic counterparts.

Paper Straws for a Plastic-Free Ocean

Biodegradable paper straws do far more than just save sea turtles and fish. Unlike plastic straws, biodegradable paper reintegrate into the ecosystem. This solves the problem of microplastics in water. Swicthing from plastic to paper straws helps fight climate change. By now, it should be clear how you can help Mr. Ferreira fight waterborne microplastics. 

Cut out as many single-use plastics as you can, and switch to biodegradable paper and reusable alternatives. If we want to support brilliant people like Fionn Ferreira, then we shouldn’t create more messes to clean up. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we salute Mr. Ferreira for his innovative solution to finally solve our microplastic crisis.

Microplastics in Soil Hurt Earthworms

Microplastics seem to be all the rage today. We hear about them polluting the oceans, and even floating in the air. If that wasn’t scary enough, microplastics are now in the soil, and they’re hurting earthworms.

According to a recent scientific study, microplastics are causing worms to lose weight. This finding worries us at OkStraw Paper Straws, because it’s devastating news. If we want to ensure a stable food supply, then we have to tackle our microplastic problem.

 

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Earthworms are in Trouble

In a recent study by Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom, scientists observed microplastics causing rosy-tipped earthworms to lose weight. While scientists are sure why microplastics in soil cause earthworms to lose weight, the details are worrying.

The plastic responsible was HDPE, commonly used in plastic straws, bags and soda bottles. Scientists determined that HDPE in soil caused earthworms to lose 3% of their body weight over a month. Without HDPE in the soil, earthworms gained 5% body weight over the same timespan. This scares us at OkStraw Paper Straws, because microplastics hurting earthworms carries serious repercussions for human beings. 

Microplastics Threaten Human Beings

So far, scientists still don’t know whether microplastics directly hurt people who swallow them. With this news, however, we at OkStraw Paper Straws believe they won’t need to. That’s because microplastics in the soil directly threatens human populations.

Earthworms provide important nutrients for yielding healthy crops, which farmers need. If microplastics kill off earthworms, then farmers won’t be able to grow enough food to feed people. This means microplastics have the potential to cause crop failures, and food shortages. 

No Where is Safe From Microplastics

“But how do microplastics get into the soil?”, you may ask. Microplastics are incredibly invasive; storm clouds and wind storms can carry them across long distances. When microplastics enter rainstorms, they get carried down to the ground, and leech into the soil. Worms then eat these microplastics, lose weight and die, causing food shortages.

As with other forms of pollution, microplastics in the soil will disproportionately affect developing countries. Because developing countries have less safeguards against food shortages, microplastics will kill vulnerable people through starvation. We at OkStraw Paper Straws believe that unless we cut out plastics, the consequences will be deadly.

How You Can Fight Microplastics

Because HDPE microplastics hurt earthworms, let’s first cut out products that use this material. Instead of using HDPE-based plastic bags and plastic straws, switch to reusable bags and paper straws. These flimsy plastics are difficult to recycle properly, so the best safeguard is to not use them.

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we encourage everyone to join us in cutting out plastics. Not just for the turtles and fish, but for those earthworms, and even human beings. OkStraw organic paper straws are safely biodegradable in both the ocean and the soil. Our paper straws hurt neither turtle nor earthworm, and they don’t threaten food security. So do it for the worms, do it for the people, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

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Trump Curbs Climate Change Impact Research

The Trump administration just ordered a government agency to stop predicting the long term impacts of climate change. The order came from the US Geological Survey (USGS) director James Reilly. Reilly, a Trump-appointed former oil geologist, ordered scientific assessments to only make climate change predictions up until the year 2040. 

The Trump administration limiting the predictions of climate change to 2040 is a serious blow to saving our planet. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we believe this new prediction model, just like the Trump administration’s view on plastics, is dangerous and shortsighted. Fighting climate change is an uphill battle, and to win this battle, we must know its long term impacts.

Trump vs. Climate Change Scientists

Before this change, the USGS used 2100 as the year to study climate change impacts. By using 2100 in their computer models, scientists were better able to predict how climate change will progress. With the scope of their research shortened to 20 years, climate scientists can’t make accurate enough predictions, and can’t recommend the best strategies.

 

While we at OkStraw Paper Straws focus on cutting out plastic waste, we know climate change is humanity’s biggest existential threat. As earth’s temperature rises, more cities will become flooded, countries will be too hot to inhabit, and droughts will starve people. Because of these effects, climate change is a major economic, geographic and humanitarian threat to our planet. 

The Shortsighted Trump Administration

Climate change is also a major national security threat, according to the Pentagon, because it makes natural disasters worse. With the recent devastation brought on by Hurricane Dorian, the Trump administration should take this threat national security threat seriously. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is doing just the opposite. 

In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised climate change for melting ice, and opening new trade route paths. Pompeo saying something says the Trump administration acknowledges that climate change is happening, and they’d rather chase a dollar now than plan for the future. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we acknowledge how absurd the Trump administration’s view on climate change is. Afterall, what good will a bigger economy and more trade routes do if climate change makes our planet unliveable? Unless President Trump has another planet ready for us to move to, we’d strongly suggest he wake and start taking climate change seriously.

trump pulls US out of climate accord okstraw paper straws
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Plastic Waste and Climate Change

So what does a company that sells paper straws have to do with limiting the impact of climate change? Far more than you would think, as a matter of fact. When we think of plastic waste, microplastics and so on, we mainly see it as a threat to marine animals and environmental safety. While all of this is true, plastic also causes climate change.

Producing plastics requires drilling for fossil fuels, which emits huge amounts of carbon. In fact, according to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the plastics industry produces up to 14 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. If we want to slow down climate change, then cutting out plastics will go a long way.

Paper Straws to Fight Climate Change

That’s where OkStraw Paper Straws comes in. Our mission is to break our addiction to single-use plastics, both healing our environment, and lowering our carbon footprint. Unlike some irresponsible and shortsighted companies, OkStraw neither demolishes virgin or tropical forests, nor practices clearcutting. Instead, we source our organic paper from ethical forestry practices, in compliance with the Sustainable Forestry Council (SFC).

 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we can only hope the Trump administration wakes up to the serious impact of climate change. After all, saving our planet doesn’t end when the next president takes office. President Trump has the opportunity to leave a sustainable legacy, but he’s squandering it by curtailing climate scientists’ research. OkStraw might be a little paper straw company, but even we can do our part to fight climate change.

great pacific garbage patch okstraw paper straws

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Cleanup Progress

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

If you read the news about plastic waste, then you probably know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Growing exponentially, the Garbage Patch poses an existential threat to the marine animals, and the people who rely on the ocean for sustenance. In order to fight this plastic waste menace, scientists and engineers set to work, and created Ocean Cleanup. 

 

While it shows great promise in plastic harvesting, Ocean Cleanup launched to a rocky start. Debuting on October, 2018 Ocean Cleanup experienced problems, but now it’s fixed, relaunched, and already showing promising results. This news thrills us at OkStraw Paper Straws, and we eagerly look forward to hearing Ocean Cleanup’s further successes. 




What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Plastic waste is a huge threat to our planet. Not only does it contribute to climate change, but plastic waste also doesn’t biodegrade. Much of this plastic waste ends up in the oceans, where it kills marine animals who ingest it. In fact, so much plastic enters the ocean, scientists predict that plastic will outnumber fish by 2050. While we know this prediction all too well at OkStraw Paper Straws, it still scares the daylights out of us. 

 

So what is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s actually two giant circular currents of plastic waste that countries on the Pacific Ocean generate. Located between California and Hawaii, and between Hawaii and Japan, these two garbage masses mostly consist of plastic waste. With at least 1.8 million pieces of plastic, scientists predict the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly growing the day. Unless we use ecofriendly alternatives to plastic, this massive oceanic patch will grow out of control.

Enter The Ocean Cleanup

Based out of the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup’s star creation is a plastic harvesting device. Ocean Cleanup consists of bloating booms in the Garbage Patch, and fine screens attached that catch and contain plastic particles. After containing these plastics, cleanup crews can then take this waste to shore, and properly recycle them. 

First presented by CEO Boyan Slat at a TEDx conference in 2012, Ocean Cleanup underwent a lengthy development phase.The Ocean Cleanup device finally made its debut on October 2018, but had to go in for repairs this January. Relaunching on June 2019, Ocean Cleanup announced that the device is successfully harvesting plastic waste. 

In addition to harvesting visible plastic waste, Ocean Cleanup can now capture microplastic pieces as small as 1 millimeter. Microplastics are a big problem, because unlike biodegradable paper, they never dissolve, and continue polluting the environment. If anyone is serious about harvesting plastic waste, then they have to capture microplastics.

A Future Without Plastic Harvesting

While Ocean Cleanup’s plastic harvesting is fantastic news, we at OkStraw Paper Straws know it’s only half of the fight. If we truly want to end the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, then we need to stop generating plastic waste. Thanks to tons of ecofriendly plastic alternatives on the market, plastic’s days are finally numbered. 

 

Unlike plastic straws, OkStraw’s paper straws are fully biodegradable, requiring no special composting or recycling facilities. As longtime Pacific coastal residents, we at OkStraw witness the impact plastic waste has on our beaches and waterways. Because of this, we extend our most heartfelt gratitude to the people behind Ocean Cleanup for all they’ve done. There may still be tons of plastics in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but you’ll never find an OkStraw paper straw among them.

Italian Island of Capri Bans Plastic Straws

The global war on plastic waste keeps roaring on, and this Spring marked yet another victory. With mayoral approval, Capri’s local government banned single-use plastics from the island, including plastic straws. 

This tiny Mediterranean island joins other world-famous beachfront destinations that gave plastic the boot. With Capri banning items like plastic straws, the island’s visitors will soon get a taste of a plastic-free lifestyle. At atOkStraw Paper Straws, we’re elated to hear Capri say arriederci to single use plastics in favor for ecofriendly alternatives like paper straws!

Capri's Plastic Waste Problem

Located off the coast of Naples, Italy, Capri is legendary destination for international tourists and movie stars alike. Cliffside villages, designer boutiques and a sea cave adorn this Mediterranean gem. However, lurking beneath this beguiling surface lies a serious problem.

 

Capri hosts 2.3 million tourists every year, and every one of them leaves their plastic waste behind. With a population equivalent to Chicago visiting this tiny island every year, Capri is struggling to manage this plastic waste. As a result, Mayor Giovanni De Martino just approved a ban on all-single use plastics from the island. 

For a Sustainable Capritian Future

Capri’s single-use plastics ban covers plastic straws, water bottles, bags, cutlery, and stirrers. From now on, all single-use materials on Capri Island must be biodegradable. Otherwise, violators of the single-use plastics ban face fines of up to €500. Although the ban took effect on 1 May, Capri’s government gave local businesses a 90 days to comply

 

While it’s great to hear Capri reject single-use plastics, they would still be covered by another plastics ban. Capri is part of the European Union, which already pledged to phase out single-use plastics in all countries by 2021. Nevertheless, we at OkStraw Paper Straws believe Capri made the right decision to ban single-use plastics. 

Paper Straws for Capri Island

We at OkStraw Paper Straws share much in common with Capri’s residents. Much like Capri, our hometown San Diego is a world-famous destination. Likewise, hosting millions of visitors means we both have to deal with plastic waste. So rather than worry about dealing with plastic waste, why not do away with it? We think so, and that’s why San Diego banned single-use plastics.

 

Thanks to innovative companies like OkStraw Paper Straws, single-use plastic alternatives are here better than ever. OkStraw’s paper straws are fully biodegradable, making them compliant with Capri’s single-use plastics ban. OkStraw paper straws degrade naturally, and never contain harmful chemicals. Once an OkStraw Paper Straw does its job, it returns to the planet that bore it. On the island today, back to nature tomorrow, OkStraw’s paper straws are Capri’s newest ecotourists. 

 

Microplastics Found in Tampa Bay, Florida

Microplastic Crisis on the Gulf

While packing our bags for the Florida Restaurant Show in Orlando, we heard news that shocked us. Right down the Florida Gulf Coast, scientists discovered massive amounts of microplastics are in Tampa Bay. This is yet another story of scientists finding massive amounts of microplastics in the environment, and it’s not improving. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we take this microplastic threat extremely seriously. There’s no telling what long term health effects microplastics will have on people and animals, but they can’t be good. The Tampa Bay microplastics discovery shows us that plastic waste is yet another part of our planet’s environmental crisis. 

 

The Tampa Bay Area is home to over millions of people
Scientists discovered microplastics in virtually every environment

How Microplastics Were Discovered

Professor David Hastings and his students at Eckerd College made the microplastics discovery, while studying plankton specimens. Hastings wanted to investigate further, and teamed up with Kinsley McEachern, a recent environmental science graduate from the University of Florida St. Petersburg (UFSP). McEachern and Hastings gathered microplastic specimins throughout Tampa Bay, and came to a startling conclusion.

After calculating the size of Florida’s largest estuary, both scientists estimated that 4 billion microplastic pieces litter Tampa Bay’s water, and up 3 trillion cover its sea floor. The sources of these microplastics could be anything, from fishing nets, to plastic bags, plastic straws, and food packaging. 

How Microplastics Hurt Tampa Bay

What does this colossal amount of microplastics mean for Tampa Bay’s ecosystem? UFSP researchers explain that fish and shellfish eat these plankton-sized microplastics, and then become food for marine animals. Microplastics then make their way up the food chain, and end up in seafood that people eat. We at OkStraw know how important a healthly marine environment is for everyone, as we are based in a coastal city. 

Will this microplastic discovery convince cities in Tampa Bay to ban single-use plastics like straws, foodware and bags? Maybe, because other cities like Orlando, Miami Beach and Key West already passed bans. This is a wakeup call for cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg to ban single-use plastics, and heal Tampa Bay.

Marine animals like Sea Turtles are a high risk from plastic waste

For a Plastic-Free Florida

At OkStraw, we’re sadly familiar with microplastics saturating the environment, and Tampa Bay is the latest casualty. We need to rid the world of plastic waste, but this won’t be an easy fight. Plastic straws are just one type of plastic waste, but ditching them for paper straws is a no brainer. Plastic straws are almost impossible to recycle, they break down into microplastics, and they kill marine animals. 

We at OkStraw wage our battle against environmentally destructive plastic straws with our industry-leading paper straws. With unmatched longevity and toughness for any drink from bubble tea to slushies, OkStraw Paper Straws are made for Florida. This weekend, OkStraw will be at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show in Orlando. Stop by and meet us, help make the Sunshine State  plastic free, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

 

OkStraw Paper Straws and the Threat from Microplastics

OkStraw's Warning on Plastic Waste

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we ask ourselves: “is plastic is really everywhere?”. Plastic is on the ground, in waterways, in our planet’s oceans, and almost every object we use has some level of plastic in it. Is this really true, however? Has plastic become so pervasive that it has literally entered every space of our planet? With the results of US Geological Survey researcher Gregory Wetherbee’s recent discovery, the answer is clearly becoming “yes”.

Wetherbee was analyzing collected samples of freshly fallen rainwater gathered high up on the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and discovered microplastic fibers in the samples. We at OkStraw Paper Straws are alarmed to hear the extent to which plastic is contaminating our planet. When was the last time you’ve heard someone talk about biodegradable paper straws washing up ashore? Probably not as recently as you’ve heard about plastic straws, and those are only visible pieces of plastic.

Microplastics in Places You Never Expected

Wetherbee’s discovery appalls us at OkStraw, but it’s not the first time microplastics turned up in remote locations. Scientists found microplastics in the Pyrnees Mountains, in British rivers, and American groundwater. If the microplastics in snow and rainfall wasn’t shocking enough, then their sheer concentration will. 

Scientists working in the Arctic Circle estimated that for every liter of melted snow they collected, there were 10,000 pieces of microplastic. How many of these 10,000 pieces of microplastic came from a plastic straw that someone used instead of eco-friendly paper straws? Likely more than we could ever imagine. 

Microplastics are the result of our failure to recycle plastic waste

Consequences of Plastic Waste

Stories like this remind us why switching from plastics to biodegradable paper is so important. Microplastics in these far flung areas are the result of our failure to recycle plastic waste. Unrecycled plastic eventually breaks down into tiny, imperceptible fragments, or microplastics. Winds and water currents then carry these microplastics to places we didn’t expect.

These microparticles in the water, on land and in the air could come from anything. They could be particles emitted from factories, plastic straws that broke apart, or even synthetic fibers shedding from our clothes. On the other hand, items like paper straws, paper bags and natural fibers harmlessly disintegrate.

If our planet falls to plastic waste, then we are going down with it

OkStraw Paper Straws for our Health and the Planet's

What do microplastics in the air mean for humans? They mean that not only are we eating and drinking microplastics, we are also inhaling them. Microplastics are also known to attach themselves to toxic metals, including mercury. Microplastics can bind to bacteria, and can make us sick if we inhale them. Unlike the fossil fuel in plastic straws, the wood from paper straws is part of our natural environment, and once it breaks down, it naturally recycles. 

With microplastics in our air, food, and drinking water, when can we finally say “enough”? Now’s the time wake up, and realize that if our planet falls to plastic waste, then we are going down with it. At OkStraw, we fight microplastics by offering a sustainable alternative with our paper straws. We can assure you that you won’t find an OkStraw paper straw in the Arctic, unless it’s in a drink.

Oregon Plastic Straw Ban – Oregon Passes Single-Use Plastic Straw Law

2020 Plastic Straw Ban is Here

Starting in January 2020, Oregon has banned restaurants and bars from using plastic straws. Paper Straws are an alternative.

Oregon has followed California in becoming the second US state to enact restrictions on single use plastic straws. The measure was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives on May 29th, 2019, with a winning margin of 48-12. The new law will ban restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws unless customers request one, similar to California’s law. Restaurants can still provide customers with paper strawsr.

Drive-thru restaurants and pharmacies will still be allowed to offer straws, however. Addressing reporters, Oregon governor Kate Brown voiced her support for the new ban, citing a need to raise public awareness of the effects single-use plastics have on the environment, and encourage people to make sustainable changes to their lifestyles. 

As residents of an eco-conscious destination like Oregon, we at OkStraw Paper Straws know plastic waste is an economic disaster. After all, who wants to go to an Oregon beach  or forest if it’s littered with plastic?

Paper Straws are Ecofriendly Alternative to Plastic
Oregon Governor Kate Brown
Oregon Capital Building

These new restrictions on single-use plastic straws are the start of Oregon’s fight to reduce plastic waste.

Paper straws are a far safer option for protecting marine animals
Support Sea Animals with this fun Variety Pack!

Plastic Straw Ban Measure Passed Both Houses in Oregon

On the floor of the Oregon House, lawmakers discussed a widely viewed YouTube video from 2015, which shows scientists removing a plastic straw lodged in a sea turtle’s nostril. Republican lawmakers in the House however opposed the measure, arguing that there was no evidence that proved plastic straws used by Oregon residents were harming birds and sea turtles, and that the ban would simply introduce more bureaucracy. 

Other Oregon House Republicans did not oppose the ban, however, arguing that it does not outright prohibit customers from requesting plastic straws. They also supported a clause in the legislation that prevents cities such as Portland from passing plastic straw bans that go further than the new state law. 

A number of environmentalists however did not support these two exceptions to the new plastic straw law. As a result, some groups withdrew their support for the bill. These new restrictions on single-use plastic straws are the start of Oregon’s fight to reduce plastic waste. In the weeks following the plastic straw bill, the State Senate passed a new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, with a 5-cent fee on reusable plastic and paper bags.

 

 

Plastic straw bans can encourage people to make more sustainable adjustments to their lives

Oregon’s new partial ban on plastic straws comes at a pivotal time in the fight for sustainability. The World Economic Forum has projected that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in Earth’s oceans than fish. 

Laws such as California’s and now Oregon’s can serve to make residents more cognizant of using any plastic item only once, and then throwing it away without thought. For businesses serving single-use foodware, paper straws, paper plates and paper takeout containers are a far more sustainable alternative to their plastic counterparts.

While they may seem small in impact at first, plastic straw bans can encourage people to make more sustainable adjustments to their lives. When more people take small steps like switching from single-use plastic straws to eco-friendly alternatives like paper straws, they can make bigger changes to their lifestyles that will lead to a healthier planet. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we encourage everyone to follow our lead, and ditch single-use plastics for biodegradable alternatives. We only use biodegradable, food grade materials to make our paper straws. From cocktails to bendy straws and boba bubble tea, there’s an OkStraw Paper Straw for every drink and everyone. So whether you’re out for drinks in Portland or sipping tea in Bend, ditch the plastic, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!