Are single use plastics having their coal moment?

GreenToGo card photo
© Durham GreenToGo

The coal industry didn't see its own collapse coming. Will single use plastics be the same?

The thing about change is, it's rarely linear. One year, we're predicting coal use will grow for decades to come. Not long after, businesses, utilities and even entire countries are breaking up with coal.

Sure, the battle's not over. But coal is definitely on the ropes.

I am beginning to wonder if single use plastics may suffer a similar and sudden set back. From Seattle's efforts to eliminate 2 million straws to the UK embracing a tax on single use plastics, there's been a sudden burst of momentum on tackling this environmental scourge. But these efforts aren't just limited to a few countries or communities.

Here are a few other headlines that recently crossed my radar:

—UK chain plans to become world's first 'plastic free' supermarket (Business Green)
—New Delhi bans non-biodegradable plastic bags entirely (Times of India)
—Tesco calls for a deposit on plastic bottles (Daily Mail)
—Movement under way to rid The Outer Banks of plastic straws (The Virginia Pilot)
—The EU declares war on single use plastics (The Guardian)

I was mulling on these various headlines the other day as I was out to lunch, and wondering why I hadn't seen similar action in my own community. It turns out, I really hadn't been paying attention. There, at my table at Pompieri Pizza, was a table tent asking diners to go #strawless. And there was also a card at the checkout counter promoting Durham GreenToGo, a membership-based returnable takeout container scheme not entirely dissimilar to what the city of Freiburg has done with their returnable to go cup.

Meanwhile, an email about straws I had somewhat sheepishly sent to the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar on Carolina Beach (I really don't like to nag) came back with an inspiring reply: They have been working on eliminating straws for the past two years, and despite customer resistance from some quarters, they now only give them out (EcoStraws) with Mojitos and Pina Coladas, and only on request.

I'm beginning to think there's a movement going on.

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