Marriott Removing Plastic Straws From Its 6,500 Hotels

CC BY 2.0. Ted Murphy

The largest hotel chain in the world joins the move against straws.

Not all single-use plastic use is equally problematic. When a ferry company banned plastic straws, there was a particularly obvious reason to celebrate—because straws on ferries are much more likely to make their way into the environment, and in particular the ocean, than straws in—for example—a BBC canteen.

So it's for similar reasons that we should be particularly encouraged today, because USA Today reports that Marriott Hotels will be eliminating plastic straws from its 6,500 hotels within the next year. (The report does't say whether dispensations will be made for customers with disabilities.) This is a big deal not only because of the sheer scale of the ban (it will reportedly eliminate 1 billion plastic straws and a quarter-billion stirrers annually), or the fact that hotels are kind of a ground zero for beverage consumption, but also because an awful lot of these properties will be in beachfront locations and/or other areas of natural beauty. And therefore, they are another location where plastics can easily escape the waste stream and make their way into the natural environment.

Of course, there's much more to the plastics pollution problem than plastic straws. But the speed at which plastic straw bans have taken hold from Seattle to India is an encouraging sign that we can achieve consensus, and even decisive action, on problems that once seemed intractable.

Next up: Ghost nets.