Sustainable Solutions

FinalStraw: Replacing Plastic Straws For Good?

2 weeks ago

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FinalStraw: Replacing Plastic Straws For Good?

In the U.S. alone, enough plastic straws are consumed (and disposed of) to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times.

Clearly this is a problem.

On top of that, they’re the 11th most found piece of ocean litter.

While the EU has recently announced a crackdown on the use of plastic straws, it’s still rather unclear as to what a ‘plastic straw-less’ future might actually look like.

Well, brand new start up FinalStraw reckon they can paint that picture. As you’ve probably seen circulating Facebook, FinalStraw is a collapsable stainless steel straw that folds down into a neat looking keychain.

Plastic Straws | Jason Wicks

Better Than Plastic Straws?

Naturally, it’s hard to deny the environmental benefit of this product.

The straw is easy to clean and completely reusable. Even the case it collapses into is made from 100% recycled ABS.

In fact, FinalStraw estimates that using their product will save around 584 plastic straws entering the ocean every year.

FinalStraw: Alternative to Plastic Straws | Jason Wicks

Positive Demand

Interestingly, the straw’s environmental credentials probably aren’t the biggest talk point here.

What I find particularly promising is the enormous demand that FinalStraw have enjoyed.

Various promotional videos of the straw have been posted on Facebook, and hundreds of thousands of people have shared them. As a result, FinalStraw’s crowdfunding campaign rocketed past there $12,500 target and ended on $1,894,878.

Pretty impressive.

In my view, it just goes to show that more and more people will buy eco products if they are well designed and unrestrictive. Too often, people think sustainability only comes with sacrifice. As if it’s all about giving things up or making compromises.

When an eco product comes along that can be used without requiring an enormous shift in behaviour, consumers reward it.

A Genuine Solution?

Don’t get me wrong, the FinalStraw is a very well designed. On top of that, there is no denying that using it is better for the environment that using plastic straws.

However, is this the solution we really need?

Personally, I think not.

The thing is, as with all sustainable solutions, I always ask myself the same question:

In an ideal future world, would this product/idea be the norm?

For me, the answer is no. When I picture a world where plastic straws are no longer, I can’t imagine everybody walking around with a steel straw on their keys.

As I spoke about in my recent article about problem solving, change can only be achieved by working backwards from the ideal situation. While FinalStraw is a neat product, I think we can aim a little bit higher when it comes to true sustainability.

Personally, I think genuine progress is only likely to come from a combination of the following:

  1. Huge reduction in consumption due to straws being ‘ask for only’.
  2. Creation of plant-based plastics that can either be recycled or compostable at home.
  3. Development of technology that can break down current plastic.

Outside of these things, companies like FinalStraw will probably only exist to make a quick buck until better solutions are found.

For that reason, I worry that more companies will jump on this bandwagon. Making money ‘selling sustainability’ when all they’re doing is buying time for better solutions to be introduced. While buying time is far from a bad thing, I fear that consumers will get fed up after a while if they’re constantly being sold the next ‘ultimate solution’.

Summary

  • Plastic is a monumental problem.
  • Plastic straws especially are hugely overused and are polluting our oceans.
  • The FinalStraw is a great piece of sustainability innovation.
  • But I don’t think it represents a genuine solution.
  • That’s not necessarily bad, but consumers may lose interest after a while.

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Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.

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