Alaska to Remove Plastic Straws and Picks from Cups On-Board & Lounges – Swapped for Marine-Friendly Stir Sticks

by Shelli

Are you a green flyer? No, I’m not talking about the color of your skin or whether or not you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. I’m talking about Alaska Airlines new plan to ditch plastic straws in favor of marine-friendly stir sticks. Alaska Airlines wants us all to be stirred to action!  On Monday, the airline announced that it will replace single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks with sustainable alternatives in its airport lounges and on all domestic and international commercial flights starting July 16, 2018. Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. airline to ban single-use plastic beverage straws. Alaska is partnering with the Seattle-based organization Lonely Whale, a nonprofit that drives impactful market-based change on behalf of our oceans, to support this initiative.

This ban on straws by Alaska Airlines makes total sense to me. The whole straw using thing escapes me. Just seems so wasteful. I haven’t used a straw in years. Even in restaurants when a server brings me a straw I always hand it back to them explaining that I don’t use straws. The weird thing about servers handing me straws is that I don’t ever order soft drinks, which are the typical drinks that go with straws. In lounges and on planes, a change like this (for both straws and stirrers) which is better for the environment and our recycling efforts, seems long overdue. So here’s hoping other airlines follow suit. You have to start somewhere and sometime with these sorts of changes, so it might as well be now.

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

Shelby reached out to Alaska Airlines last year, urging us to eliminate single-use plastic straws to reduce plastic pollution that is damaging our oceans. Little did she know, we were on the cusp of becoming the first U.S. airline to make this change, building on our decades-long commitment to environmental stewardship.

Starting this summer, we’re replacing non-recyclable plastic stir straws and citrus picks – we used 22 million last year – with sustainable, marine-friendly alternatives on all domestic and international flights, as well as in Alaska’s lounges across the country. For people with special needs, we’ll happily provide non-plastic, marine-friendly option, upon request.

We’ve partnered with the Seattle-based nonprofit Lonely Whale, an organization that drives impactful market-based change on behalf of our oceans, to support this initiative.

Lonely Whale isn’t alone in raising visibility of this issue. The Earth Day Network declared ending plastic pollution to be the theme for Earth Day this year, challenging everyone to reduce the amount of non-recyclable plastic they consume.

For Alaska Airlines flight attendant Abbe Gloor, the news was warmly welcomed. One of Alaska’s most enthusiastic inflight recyclers, she has eliminated all single-use plastic in her personal life and serves as an ambassador for the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit that takes a science-based approach to eliminating plastic pollution.

“This change is a good thing and a small step in the right direction. When it comes to the environment, we can all do a little bit better,” she said. “It was all the plastic that I observed when visiting beaches around the world that motivated me to act, so as a company that flies people to beautiful beaches, this makes a lot of sense.”

This initiative marks an impactful shift for Alaska Airlines. But the change doesn’t stop there. Besides removing single-use non-recyclable plastic straws and picks, we will be replacing most of our large (32-46 ounce) aseptic juice boxes with aluminum cans, which are more easily recyclable and less wasteful. Last year, we replaced the majority of our bottled beer with cans, which are lighter and easier to recycle.

“I am so proud of Alaska Airlines for joining me, Lonely Whale and many others in the fight to protect our oceans,” said Shelby O’Neil. “My hope is that we can continue to rally together and inspire future generations to take a stand and eliminate plastic pollution to help save our oceans.”


Be a greener flyer with these on-board recycling tips:

  • Don’t put wrappers, napkins or other garbage into cans or bottles.

  • Don’t forget to recycle your magazines.

  • Bring your own empty water bottle and fill it up once you’ve passed through security.

  • Keep recycling and garbage separate until it’s collected.

I think every step is a good step if it’s a step in the right direction, and this certainly is a good step! You can read the full story here.

Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to PointMeToThePlane, you can find her at Joy in Movement.

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Angelica May 23, 2018 - 10:07 pm

This is so cool! I’m hoping other airlines follow suit too.

Shelli May 23, 2018 - 10:10 pm

Me too, Angelica. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

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