2018 has definitely become the year of the Plastic Straw Ban. After the number of plastic straw daily consumption in the US reached 500 Million, they have become the target of a number of governments and food industry organisations seeking to address the issue of plastics-based ocean pollution.
When marine biologists filmed removing a plastic straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose and posted the video everywhere on social media, it even helped more to galvanize a larger movement, which now includes companies like Starbucks and American Airlines, to eliminate plastic straws from our day-to-day lives. Now it’s the world’s largest furniture retailer’s turn.
What you see in the picture above is the so-called “Last Straw installation” that was on show at the London’s Design Museum two weeks ago, aiming to inspire consumers to collectively take small steps that will have a positive environmental impact.
The initiative was IKEA’s idea to symbolically unveil its last single-use plastic straw, after it stopped serving or selling the items in any of its UK and Ireland stores, restaurants and bistros.
“Plastic straws have become such an important emblem for change when it comes to single-use plastic, but this campaign is not just about straws,” said Ikea spokeswoman Hege Sæbjørnsen. “We want to harness people’s energy behind ditching single-use plastic straws and disposables to draw attention to the thousands of everyday changes we can all make to have a big impact on the planet.”
According to the Marine Conservation Society, the UK uses an estimated 8.5 billion straws a year, and plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups. The Swedish furniture chain announced in June that it will phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants globally by 2020 amid growing concern about the effects of plastic on the environment.
Plastic straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups are all being phased out and where possible replaced by alternatives. Plastic waste has become a charged issue, with TV programmes regularly exposing its impact on the oceans and warnings made over the dangers of a global plastic binge.
Ikea has 363 stores in 29 countries worldwide, including 21 in the UK and Ireland. Its three-year Lagom Project – based on the philosophy that ‘The small changes you make can have a big impact’ – aims to give customers and co-workers the chance to test products that help save energy and water, reduce waste and promote a healthy lifestyle. The company says the programme is based on a Swedish philosophy on everyday life that means “just the right amount”.
The IKEA plastic straw becoming a part of a museum exhibition could really represent the end to single-use plastic straws. Or at least we hope so!
Maybe in a few generations, an exhibit like this will be standing next to other relics from our contemporary civilization such as dial-up modems and gasoline-powered cars.