The epiphany came when a certain coffee chain started replacing plastic straws with paper ones. Despite increasingly dire warnings about Texas-size islands of plastic in the world’s oceans, the sudden public debate over straws was arguably a turning point in how American consumers think about sustainability.
On one hand, the rise of paper straws is a brazen case of greenwashing, since straws make up only a tiny share of waste. On the other, the proliferation of paper and bamboo straws marked the beginning of a larger commercial pivot away from plastic.
Companies are beginning to realize there’s more to lose from offending consumers who are aware of how cheap plastic products feed global warming, choke oceans, kill wildlife and-more slowly-threaten us. This is especially the case when it comes to packaging.