LOS ANGELES , August 14, 2018 () – My wife and I had an argument recently about plastic straws.

Those in the food and beverage world are well aware of the movement currently going on to ban the use of plastic straws in their products. Starbucks, for example, announced in July that it would eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by making a strawless lid or alternative-material straw options available worldwide. And Shake Shack soon followed with its own announcement that the burger chain would remove all plastic straws from its operations by the first quarter of next year.

“This is really an important environmental issue,” my wife told me when encouraging me to write about the recent anti-plastic straw movement. “This ban is something long overdue and it’s time companies begin investing in alternative materials for straws that are less harmful to the environment.”

Now my wife obviously feels very strongly about removing plastic straws from the fast-food realm, but I’m going to take the position that most people think but are afraid to say:

I want my plastic straws!

Listen: I’m not going to argue or play down the environmental impact of plastic straws (I’m not our current government). But I’m going to be selfish: I want my plastic straws. I like my plastic straws. I’m used to my plastic straws! Whenever I’m handed a beverage at a restaurant, whether it’s at the drive-thru or sitting down at a casual dining establishment, I feel comforted when the restaurant worker hands me the straw to go along with it. It’s familiar and comforting. When no straw is given, I feel lost, like my beverage is incomplete. The plastic straw and I have been together since I was a kid. We grew up together! Taking it away is like asking me to put down my childhood dog. It’s not that easy. There’s feelings. There’s history.

I know this ban has to happen. I know it’s long overdue. But I’m convinced—convinced!—that most people don’t really want it. They say they want it because it’s the right thing to say. But if they were truly honest with you, with themselves, they would say: “Damn the environment! Give me my straws!”

When I was a teenager, fast food took away Styrofoam packaging.

You know what? I still miss it.

And I’m not ashamed to say that.


Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. We invite you to come take a look at our service. Call us today at 310-553-0008 and we’ll schedule you for a 15-minute demo.

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