If you’ve ever wondered how many plastic straws are used on flights each year…well, it’s a lot. In 2017 Alaska Airlines gave out 22 million plastic straws, swizzle sticks and citrus picks, both of which are too lightweight to recycle, and usually end up in landfills, oceans, and other waterways. Luckily, that’s all about to change — at least on this airline. Starting on June 16, Alaska Airlines will become the first US airline to ban all plastic straws and citrus picks in lounges and on flights, replacing them with white birch stir sticks and non-plastic, marine-safe straws. They will also replace most of their 32-46 ounce juice boxes this summer with easily-recyclable aluminum cans.
This isn’t the first time Alaska Airlines has led the eco-friendly charge in the airline industry. Last year, Alaska replaced its in-flight beer bottles with recyclable aluminum cans and made more efficient use of plastic cups by refilling them, rather than swapping them out for new ones during beverage service. 12,000 tons of recyclable materials were collected by Alaska’s flight attendants over the past eight years. That’s a lot of beers being consumed at 33,000 feet.
While Alaska Airlines might be on the forefront of the eco-conscious movement in the US, it’s not the only airline in the world trying to make a difference. Both Fiji and Thai Airways plan to reduce single-use plastic on their flights, and budget airline Ryanair has promised to be plastic-free by 2023. In other spheres of travel, London City Airport was the first airport to ban plastic straws, Royal Caribbean has pledged to go plastic-free on its cruises, and Vanuatu, a small island nation in the Pacific, is making a big splash by being the first country in the world to outlaw plastic straws.
Don’t be surprised if you notice more and more airlines adopting eco-friendly trends, especially when you settle in for those in-flight cocktails.
H/T: Conde Nast Traveler