Goodbye to plastic straws: Many Chicago restaurants have complied, now shareholders are demanding McDonalds do the same

Two nights ago while I was sipping my Slow Burn cocktail at Cafe Robey, one of my tablemates commented, "Look they're using paper straws." I hadn't noticed the difference, the paper straw never got "gummy" as some claim.

So why is there any controversy when it has been shown how bad plastic is for the environment.

With summer sipping on the horizon many restaurants in Chicago including DMK Burger Bar, Fish Bar, Ada Street, County BBQ and Marshall's Landing had switched to paper. Others are not serving their drinks with straws unless requested.

On a larger scale McDonald's may be doing the environmental right thing by phasing out plastic straws throughout the world.

Following their decision to phase out plastic straws in the UK, McDonald's shareholders are leading the initiative to remove plastic straws from all McDonald's 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries.

SumOfUs, an international consumer group, has filed a shareholder resolution requesting the company issue a report to shareholders on the business risks associated with its continued use of plastic straws and on the company’s effort to develop and implement substitutes for plastic straws in its restaurants.

And McDonald's is listening.

The shareholder request comes as a growing global consumer movement has called for the elimination of single-use disposable plastic straws because of their contribution to waste and deleterious impacts on marine life, specifically turtles, baby seabirds, and fish.

A YouTube video of a plastic straw being removed from the nostril of a sea turtle has now been watched by over 15.8 million people. If this video doesn't convince you to never use another plastic straw, nothing will. WARNING: It is difficult to watch.

According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, approximately 1,800 restaurants and institutions have eliminated plastic straws. Two cities in California have banned plastic straws. 

A ban on plastic straws will go into effect in Seattle, Washington in July 2018. Scotland, England, Kenya and Taiwan have also taken steps to ban disposable plastic straws.

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