In case you haven’t heard, all our 84 KFC outlets in Singapore will no longer be providing plastic straws and lids for their drinks in stores.
This is a historic move to cut down on plastic waste.
In light of that, here are 10 facts about straw-free initiatives and why you should care about this latest episode in the eco-friendly saga.
1. Plastic Straws cannot be easily recycled.
The world has been fighting a long fight against plastic waste. According to National Geographic, we have produced about 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste.
Most of which comes from disposable plastic – like straws and lids and so on.
And only 12% of that plastic waste has been incinerated. The remainder continues to exist on earth in some form.
The problem with plastic straws (or plastic in general) is that they really cannot be easily recycled.
Plastic straws are made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene. This is a plastic form that isn’t accepted by most everyday recycling initiatives.
Meaning they end up in landfills. Or polluting oceans. In other words, they can’t be destroyed, unlike your ex-relationship.
2. Plastic Straws do not really biodegrade.
If you haven’t paid attention in Science class, biodegradation means the decomposition of a certain substance or object by bacteria or living organisms, such that pollution is avoided.
And this is something plastic straws (and most plastics) can’t do, which is the reason why the war against plastic is something to be concerned about.
Plastic can only degrade. This means they just break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics. Basically, just cuz we can’t see them anymore, doesn’t mean they are there.
Oh and did I mention it takes like 200 years for plastic to degrade?
Microplastics are especially dangerous for marine life as they are often the victims of ingesting plastic.
And plastic straws are among the top ten contributors to the plastic waste found in oceans.
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Remember when we all freaked out over plastic being found in rice? Well, to marine life and seabirds, this is their current reality.
3. Why should this concern me?
Aside from the fact that Earth is the home of mankind (not just our generation) so we should leave it in the best possible condition for our kids and grandkids and so on, there are very immediate reasons why you should care about this issue.
According to some studies, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Now if that prediction itself doesn’t make you want to care, think of the logical consequences of this.
On a more superficial level, water sports and activities will be a thing of the past. Don’t wanna die from a plastic bag strangling you in water now, do you?
On a more devastating level, most of the fish left in the oceans would have consumed plastic in some form. Which means eating seafood could turn into a thing of the past because its no longer safe.
Pollution of the seas could also affect drinking water, destroy ecosystems and essentially bring the whole world to its knees.
4. KFC’s initiative to cut its plastic footprint.
So come 20 June, all 84 KFC outlets islandwide will no longer be serving up plastic straws and lids for their drinks.
Takeaway cups will still have the lids though.
This move alone by KFC in Singapore will save approximately 17.9 tonnes of single-use plastics annually! That’s really impressive.
KFC also acknowledges that every little bit counts and that it is proud to be the first fast food restaurant in Singapore to pioneer this change.
5. KFC might be the first fast-food restaurant but it isn’t the first in Singapore to do without plastic straws.
The first big player to do without plastic straws is actually the Koufu foodcourt at SMU.
In March this year, Koufu in SMU started its Say No to Plastic Straws initiative where they have taken out plastic straws completely.
The Koufu has also started using biodegradable takeaway packaging and reusable utensils in a bid to practice a more sustainable way of life.
And should this initiative gain traction, Koufu aims to implement this in all its outlets islandwide.
6. Hotels in Singapore are also catching on the straw-free initiative.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts Group have also pledged their commitment to phase out single-use plastics like straws and even toiletry bottles and such from their hotels.
Hotels involved in this initiative would be Orchard Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, M Hotel, Studio M, M Social and Copthorne King’s Hotel.
They will phase the plastics out over the course of one year and bring in more sustainable and biodegradable items like wood and paper.
Shampoos and soaps will now be in dispensers instead of the little plastic bottles (oww…cannot steal those little cuties back home liao).
But then again, not taking home a million of those little hotel soaps seem like a small price to pay for the good of the Earth, don’t you think?
7. Everything KFC does affect McDonald’s and vice versa.
McDonald’s and KFC are the iconic duo of the fast food world, always constantly having to outdo each other.
Anyway, come September, McDonald’s will be part of the straw-free initiative by completely removing plastic straws from its stores in UK and Ireland.
It will also begin testing this initiative out in its market in the US, France and Norway.
And it is without doubt that if KFC is successful and their tests get a positive result, this straw-free initiative will be rolling out in McDonald’s outlets all over Singapore in no time at all!
Personally, I can’t wait. About time people did something about plastic waste…
8. Edible straws could be a thing.
Paper straws are cool and biodegradable and all, but for some, it doesn’t stop there.
Start-up company Loliware is creating edible straws so we can just eat it after we’re done drinking.
A drink and a snack all in one? Ummm…yummy!
These straws will be made with seaweed and have flavours like mango, caramel and chocolate to add a yummy kick to your drink.
The company aims to replace plastic straws with these fun, edible straws at locations that consume straws the most – like food courts, fast casual restaurants and stadiums.
Right now, Loliware is only available in the USA.
But with alternatives like this cropping up, the straw-free initiative is going to be a breeze to follow through all over the world, in all manner of eateries and drinkeries, if you ask me.
9. Singaporeans are willing to ditch plastic straws.
A recent report done has found something totally incredible.
Apparently, 86% of consumers felt ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ towards businesses that make the effort to find alternatives to disposable plastic straws.
80% of the consumers also indicated their willingness to ditch plastic straws – 84% said they were happy to go without straws, and 81% said they would be willing to use more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Can’t say Singaporeans don’t care about the environment anymore hor!
These are good numbers because it means that the straw-free initiative would be able to easily become an islandwide thing if people are receptive to it.
And who knows, this could turn into our new normal. Just ignore the online haters lah; they hate everything online.
P.S: Don’t worry, you can still drink your bubble tea with plastic straw alternatives like paper/metal/wooden straws. We just kick out plastic straws/packaging, k?
10. Bamboo Straw Girl
26-year old Melissa Lam founded Bamboo Straws Worldwide after her determination to cut down on plastic waste set her on the path to creating bamboo straws.
And man, they have been a major hit! Not just locally, but also internationally.
These are also really popular with moms, as they are all-natural and very kid-friendly.
These straws are reusable and made with materials sourced from all over Southeast Asia.
She does not aim to set up a store in Singapore, but aims to grow her online presence to meet the increasing demand for it from Singaporeans.
She also has other bamboo products besides the all-natural, reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable straws. If you want to purchase the straws or anything else, visit her page.
And share it with your friends – you can all go on this straw-free and eventually plastic-free journey together! And oh, it’s IG-worthy, too!
You see, straw-free initiatives aren’t just about never ever using a straw. It’s about saying no to plastic straws and finding alternatives.
Hopefully, as a nation, plastic straws will be a step in the right direction. And we will start sourcing for alternatives to all manner of plastic products to reduce our impact on the environment…
We only have one Earth after all.
Either that, or we need Thanos #justsaying
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