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U•Konserve & Friends Switch The Straw Once And For All

switch the straw

As our campaign to switch the straw draws to a close, we are filled with gratitude. Thank you to our partners and wonderful community who shared the message and posted pictures of how they switch the straw. We’d like to finish the month by highlighting more partners and community members who advocate for switching the straw.

These organizations and individuals feel just as passionate about reusable straws as we do! Below are a few like-minded campaigns supporting the movement to eliminate plastic straws.

Ocean Conservancy

The team at Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s biggest global challenges through science-based solutions. Since oceans are the most important ecosystems on the planet it is important they are kept clean and free of trash. How do they accomplish this?  Through organized events like beach clean-ups, challenges like their last straw challenge, and building community via social networks. Get involved by signing this letter asking restaurants to ask before serving straws.

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Plastic Pollution Coalition’s goal is to stop plastic pollution once and for all. Get started by following their guide to living plastic free and signing their “no plastic straw” pledge. Take the next step and get your community involved by visiting local restaurants and cafes and asking them to serve straws upon request.

Straws Upon Request

The mission of Straws Upon Request is simple: get restaurant owners to commit to only serving straws when asked. Since straws are not a necessity to drink a beverage and cause harm to the environment, they’d like restaurants to kick the habit for good. You can follow their progress here. Interested in getting your organization or school involved? You can contact them here for more information.

One Green Planet

One Green Planet is educating consumers about why saying NO to plastic straws is a big YES for the planet. From the effects plastic straws have on the planet to how you can minimize your straw use, they are educating the masses.

Still looking to switch the straw? Act now and receive a free straw brush with your purchase of reusable straws. Offer ends 9/30.

Check out our switch the straw board on Pinterest for more straw facts and information on how you can become involved with the movement.

How Straws Affect Animals and Ecosystems

straws

Considering more than 90 percent of all trash floating in the world’s oceans is plastic, it’s logical that plastic accounts for the most harmful man-made items in the ocean. But what we often forget is that animals are ingesting this plastic waste every day, especially straws.

Many marine biologists, photographers, and sea lovers have captured the impact of single-use plastic on animals. As the plastic travels into and around the ocean, it breaks into tiny pieces that are then easily ingested by marine life. These are the top animals affected by single-use straws in the ocean:

Seabirds

Millions of seabirds are killed from the effects of plastic pollution every year. One of the most common plastic items ingested by seabirds are plastic straws from juice boxes. The plastic reduces the storage volume of their stomachs, ultimately causing them to starve. It’s estimated that 90 percent of all seabirds have eaten pieces of plastic. That number is predicted to increase to 99 percent by 2050.

Fish

Fish ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year in the North Pacific alone. This causes intestinal injury, death, and also transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets in California contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic microfibers. This plastic leaches harmful toxins, including BPA, into their bodies and ultimately into us through our dinner plates.

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles also mistake floating plastic items for food. While plastic bags are the most commonly ingested item found in turtles, straws are a close second. About a year ago, two researchers posted an 8-minute video of what happened when a turtle met a straw and the impact it had on the animal. Since some sea turtle species are critically endangered, this viral story highlighted the important issue of single-use straw waste.

Switching the straw may seem small on the individual level, but the impact it can have on the environment and animals is huge. To help you get started, we’re offering a Free Straw Brush with every Stainless Steel Straw 2-Pack through September. To learn more straw facts visit our Pinterest board dedicated to the topic, and our Facebook page.

Artists Changing The Way We See Single-Use Plastic

seeing-art-through-plastic-waste-1

Today nearly every person on the planet comes into contact with some form of plastic packaging on a daily basis. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, worldwide use of plastic has increased 20 times in the past 50 years, and it is expected to double in the next 20 years. While many companies and organizations focus on plastic waste facts to raise awareness, artists are also coming up with creative ways to bring attention to the issue.

Many artists have found inspiration in plastic waste, from daily garbage to plastic found in the ocean. They have created pieces, installations and images to bring awareness.  Here are some of our favorite campaigns:

#365 Unpacked

In this photo series, artist Antoine Repesse spent four years collecting his own recyclables and photographing the waste. By taking the subject and dividing it into its respective areas of use, we see how much waste we, in fact, might have in our own homes. What does his series ultimately remind us? That the best waste is the waste we don’t produce.

7 Days of Garbage

Photographer Gregg Segal had a similar motive behind his photo series.  He grew up always wondering where his trash was going and what will happen when we run out of room for it. In this series he asked friends, family and neighbors to collect their trash and recyclables for a week. He then photographed them laying in their own trash. His motive? “I photographed my family because I want my 8-year-old son to understand that we’re contributing to the problem, too.”

Natural Plasticity

Los Angeles-based artists Jana Cruder & Matthew Lapenta scale the impact of single-use plastics in their larger-than-life installation series. Their mission is to bring a consciousness to consumers and corporations about plastics through the creation of 20-30 ft. single-use plastic bottles and cups. Since disposable plastic is impacting our natural environment, they hope their large scale works will have a profound effect on consumers. Click here to find this impressive traveling installation.

What can we do to help eliminate plastic waste? An organization called Litterati has a solution. They’ve created a community that identifies where litter is being found and cleans it up. By downloading their app you can geotag exactly where you’re finding trash, then you or someone in the community can help remove it. With a goal of a litter-free world in mind, this app makes picking up trash into a treasure hunt.

Organizations Who Are Changing The Way We See Straws

organizations

For the month of September, we’ve partnered with many impressive organizations to spread the #SwitchtheStraw message. These organizations feel just as passionate about reusable straws as we do! Below are a few like-minded campaigns supporting the movement to eliminate plastic straws:

The Last Plastic Straw

The Last Plastic Straw’s main focus is to educate the public on disposable plastics and the harm they have on our health, environment and oceans. They aim to eliminate the issue from the source: single-use plastics.

How can you help? Simply request “no straw please” at restaurants, coffee shops and juice bars. Encourage them to only provide straws on request from customers, and to use compostable or reusable options instead of plastic. Basically, DO LESS: consume less, waste less, and use less plastic. It’s a win-win!

Join in a global movement to eliminate plastic drinking straws from our landfills, our streams, our oceans and our beaches.

Be Straw Free Campaign

The Be Straw Free campaign was started by 9-year-old Milo Cress when he learned the facts about daily plastic straw use. His campaign aims to work together with members of the straw industry, restaurants, schools, environmental groups, businesses and concerned citizens to reduce the use of disposable plastic straws.

Take action! Join Milo in reducing waste by taking the pledge to go strawless or adopting an “offer first” policy at restaurants or businesses. Get your community involved and follow Milo’s lead. One person can have a profound effect on the health of our environment.

Click here for more information or to run a campaign.

5 Gyres

The 5 Gyres Institute is a non-profit organization that empowers action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution. Their programs and research focus on science, art, education and adventure as it relates to the world’s oceans.

A gyre is a large system of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by the Earth’s rotation. Debris drifts into these areas of the ocean and accumulates into garbage patches due to wind patterns. The Indian Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean all have giant garbage patches that are significantly impacting the health of our oceans.

Plastic straws are a top polluter on beaches. As a result, 5 Gyres encourages their community to sign a #plasticfree pledge. With action steps and guides, 5 Gyres’ resources make it easier to live plastic free.

So, how will you get involved and #SwitchtheStraw? Share with us on social media if you’re organizing a campaign, bringing your own reusable straw, or saying NO to plastic straws!

Understanding the Lifecycle of Plastic Straws

plastic straws

This month we are focusing our efforts on the impact of plastic straws on the environment. Daily, 500 million single-use straws are used in the United States alone, enough to fill 127 school buses. Understanding how plastic straws impact you is just as important as understanding the impact they have on the environment.

How plastic straws are made

Plastic straws are made from the petroleum bi-product polypropylene which does not biodegrade naturally in the environment. Colorants and plasticizers are added to the product in the factory. Then the oil-based product is usually individually wrapped in paper or plastic and then boxed to be shipped (using more petroleum) to their next destination, and then shipped again to their final destination.

Where do they go once used?

Plastic straws are not easily recycled. So what happens then? Some straws are incinerated, which adds toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Most straws go into landfills where they live forever since plastic isn’t biodegradable. When buried in the ground, straws leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

The rest end up floating into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean. There they find their way into gyers and are broken down into tiny bits and ingested by marine mammals and other sea life. It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and countless fish are killed by plastic pollution every year.

What can you do?

You don’t have to be an environmental crusader to save the Earth. In fact, it’s not just the ardent defenders of the environment who make the biggest impact. Millions of people acting in small ways can have a profound effect. What can you do? Start by refusing plastic straws, switching to reusable straws and raising awareness about the plastic straw problem by following our Switch the Straw campaign.

For the month of September, we are offering a FREE Straw Brush with every purchase of our reusable stainless steel straws. We have also created a Pinterest board with our favorite resources and facts on plastic straws. How are you switching the straw this month? Please share with us on social media and let us know how you’re raising awareness!

Five Reasons to Switch the Straw (Infographic)

Similar to disposable plastic bags, plastic straws are used for only a few minutes, but remain in the environment forever. They end up on our beaches and in our oceans. They become a hazard to animals and ecosystems. Now is the time to switch the straw and choose reusable straws or go without. This month we are focusing on ditching plastic straws once and for all!

Top Five Reasons to Switch the Straw

  1. 500,000,000 plastic straws are used daily in the United States alone. That’s enough to wrap around the world 2.5 times, fill over 635 school buses a week, and fill Yankee Stadium 9 times per year.
  2. They never go away. Just like other plastics, straws last forever. In fact, every straw that was ever made still exists in some form.
  3. They pollute our enviornment and harm our wildlife. Plastic Straws are one of the top ten items collected at beach cleanups worldwide. Small particles from plastic straws end up in oceans where they are consumed by fish and other marine animals. Small particles also get swept up by water and end up leaching chemicals into our soil and groundwater.
  4. It’s an easy switch! Save money, time and your health by skipping plastic and choosing reusable. Our stainless steel straws are dishwasher safe, chemical free, and can be used with hot or cold beverages. Make your own straw sleeve or purchase one here for on the go !
  5. We’ve estimated that by selling reusable straws to our customers we’ve saved 74,000,000 plastic straws from the waste stream. By switching your straw you have the power to increase that number and spread the message globally.

What can you do to get involved? Please share this infographic and let us know how you’re spreading the word to #SwitchtheStraw! For the month of September, enjoy a FREE straw brush with every purchase of our stainless steel straws.

switch the straw

Drink Ideas for Work, School and Home (without the plastic straw)

straw-free

One reusable straw can save thousands of plastic straws from polluting our oceans and landfills. This September, we are providing ways you can switch the straw from plastic to reusable. Today we have some of our favorite straw-free drink ideas to make at home instead of purchasing on the go.

Infused Spa Water (without the spa)

Ingredients
Lemon + Mint + Cucumber + Water
Berries + Basil + Water
Strawberries + Lemon + Basil + Water
Orange + Blueberries + Water
Watermelon + Kiwi + Strawberries + Water
Raspberries + Lemon + Water

Directions
Pick your favorite pitcher and fill with water. Cut up ingredients and add a handful to the pitcher of water. Let sit overnight or enjoy immediately.

A Hint of Mint Green Smoothie

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup green grapes
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
6 fresh mint leaves
2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 to 1 ¼ cups ice cubes

Directions
In the smoothie cup of a high powered blender, place the ingredients in the order listed. Screw the blade base onto the smoothie cup and invert onto the base of the blender. Blend on low 10 seconds, then gradually increase to highest setting until pureed and smooth, about 1 minute. Makes 2 1/3 cups.

Tropical Berry Straw-Free Smoothie

Ingredients
½ cup (3 oz.) frozen strawberries
½ cup (2 oz.) frozen raspberries
½ cup (2.5 oz.) frozen mango chunks
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ Tbs. honey (optional)
½ Tbs. antioxidant smoothie mixer (optional)

Directions
In the smoothie cup of a high powered blender, place the ingredients in the order listed. Screw the blade base onto the smoothie cup and invert onto the base of the blender. Blend on low 10 seconds, then gradually increase to highest setting until pureed and smooth, about 1 minute. Makes about 2 cups.

Want more straw-free drink ideas?  Head over to our Pinterest Page for recipes and more!

It’s Not Just a Straw, It’s a Movement

straw

Today, 500 Million plastic drinking straws were used . Eventually, they pile on top of other non-biodegradable items contribute to a problem that we can’t solve overnight. A plastic straw is a standard at any fast food chain, and many sit-down restaurants automatically serve them in drinks. People use them at home and never think about what happens to the throw-away plastic after it hits the trash can.

Aside from ecological issues, plastic straws may also contribute to harmful side effects. Bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially toxic chemical sometimes found in plastic straws, is linked to everything from breast cancer to birth defects. To make matters worse it’s proven to leech out into your beverage. However, that risk can be easily avoided by using stainless steel drinking straws instead of plastic.

Switch the Straw

Instead of foregoing straws altogether, using straws made of stainless steel is a great option. Stainless steel is sturdy, reliable, and won’t leach any toxins into your drinks. These straws withstand hot and cold drinks and can be easily cleaned with a straw brush and washed in the dishwasher.

Stainless steel straws can help both your health and the environment, so why aren’t more people using them? People may not know what a big difference a little straw can make, but this September we want to educate you on facts and organizations that make it clear why reusable straws are the best alternative:

Will you help spread the word? Join us by using the tag #SwitchtheStraw and share how you have swapped plastic straws for a reusable alternative!

We’ll be working hard in September to raise awareness about the plastic straw problem. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to learn and share the facts.

Finally during the month of September get a free straw brush with your purchase of a Stainless Steel 2-Pack (while supplies last). The brush will appear in cart automatically with the selection of stainless steel straws.

How To Pack A Waste-Free Lunch With Your Kids

waste-free lunch

School is back in session, and the kids are transitioning from summer break to classrooms and after-school activities. It’s not always easy to get back into the swing of things, but one of our favorite activities is packing a waste-free lunch with our kids.

Preparing and packing lunches the night before saves time during busy mornings and gives kids an opportunity to pick what they would like to eat. Here is our favorite recipe to follow when packing back-to-school lunches with your kids:

Step 1: Pick out fun reusable containers

The right containers provide a solid foundation for a nutritious lunch. Our kids love packing food in their stainless steel bento boxes. These durable, colorful containers make it easy to balance food groups and healthy portions.

Step 2: Make the main meal

With so many different combinations, sandwiches and wraps are an easy way to pack a healthy lunch. We are always experimenting, but here are a few of our favorite combinations. Help your kids cut them in half or quarters to fit into their containers. Fill in the other sections with cut fruits, veggies, nuts and more.

Step 3: Add snacks

Sundays are perfect for making a batch of snacks for the week. Energy bites are easy to make with your kids and pack along with lunch or for a quick after-school snack before activities begin.

Skip the plastic baggie and instead fill reusable snack bags with a handful of whole wheat pretzels or crackers.

Step 4: Hydrate properly

Water can be easily packed in reusable bottles. Remind your kids to BYOB (bring your own bottle) for the school day to reduce waste associated with throwaway plastic bottles and juice boxes. Cold smoothies, juices or milk can be packed in insulated jars. Remember to pre-chill by putting in the freezer for a few minutes (lid off) before filling with your cold drink.

Step 5: Don’t forget waste-free accessories

Bamboo sporks, stainless steel straws, a cloth napkin (and a note from mom and dad) make the perfect finishing touches for a waste-free lunch. Help your kids pack everything in their lunchbox and don’t forget to grab it out of the fridge in the morning!

Worried that your kids may not remember to bring all of their containers home? Our co-founder Lynn reassures you that they WILL remember!