Old habits die hard. Man has used straws for 7000 years for various purposes, but this seemingly innocent 23cm device has proved a dangerous habit to ignore. If we don’t decide to collectively change our habits, by 2050 the ocean could contain more plastic than fish. As part of Radisson Hotel Group’s responsible business, we invite you to join forces with us and #RefuseTheStraw.
The first straw
Originally used to avoid by-products of fermentation while drinking beer, the oldest straw in existence was found in a Sumerian tomb 3000 BC and was made of gold bedazzled with precious stones. The plastic straw as we know it today was invented by Marvin C. Stone in 1888 when he sipped a Mint Julip through a rye straw which tainted the taste. Since then, it’s safe to say that straws have changed purpose and looks, now serving more as a gimmick and a trend than a necessity. From ancient personal items to fleeting disposable devices, why are we still grasping at straws?
The straw that broke the camel's back
This seemingly small object is surprisingly sturdy and takes an impressive 200 years to decompose. The math becomes more terrifying when considering that the USA alone uses more than 500 million straws a day, the equivalent of 125 straw filled school buses. The damage of straws was made particularly evident in the viral video of a turtle getting a 10cm long straw extracted from its nasal cavity. This video has prompted several protests and straw wars, with many movements asking us to simply #RefuseTheStraw. Can the solution really be that simple? At Radisson Blu, we believe so.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Refuse
There are three R’s to habit change; Reminder, Routine and Reward. Routine is essential when we seek to change our bad habits in our attempts to reduce, reuse and recycle for the environment. Ordering a drink is the reminder of the straw, which triggers the routine of the fourth R; refusing it, leading to the reward of a cleaner ocean. It might seem like a little gesture, but changing our routines and saying no to straws can mean the world to the planet. The amount of damage a tiny straw can do proves that even the smallest things can make a big difference.
The last straw
As part of Radisson Hotel Group’s sustainable Think Planet initiative, Radisson Blu hotels around the globe participated in Earth Day and its attempt to fundamentally change people’s attitude and behavior towards plastic. On top of participating in and encouraging the #RefuseTheStraw initiative, many hotels are taking extra steps towards helping make the planet a little bit greener. For example, Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel Cape Town is partnering with Two Oceans Aquarium by donating used towels and empty ice cream tubs to help rescue sea turtles. This is in line with their environmental and sustainability strategy which saw them taking some groundbreaking initiatives to reduce water consumption and, amongst others, becoming the first hotel in Cape Town to use seawater in their swimming pool. From April onward the hotel is ceasing plastic straw usage and biodegradable straws will be available to guests upon request.
Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel Cape Town has also recently teamed up with Water for Paws to donate drinking water to The Lucky Lucy Foundation, an NPO which comes to the help of neglected and abused animals.
On their end, Radisson Blu hotels in Reykjavik are offering a tasty new straw-free drink in the form of a Caramel latte that can be served either hot or cold.
Psst! It's also extremely Instagrammable, so feel free to try it out and share your photos on Instagram using the hashtags #RefusetheStraw and #RadissonBlu!
By starting with something as little as a straw, the impact is vastly larger than the effort. When, where and what will be the last straw? With #RefuseTheStraw we ask people to drink responsibly and ecologically in the hopes of starting a strawless trend around the world.