The Straw Wars have come to Maui. In a major move for marine conservation, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa has announced that they will no longer offer single-use plastic straws to guests. Instead, resort staff will offer paper straws (like those shown above) by request.
“Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock), fronting the resort, is one of the top destinations on Maui to see tropical marine life in their natural habitat, including the beloved honu,” said Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s General Manager Tetsuji Yamazaki in an Aug. 29 press release. “Implementing usage of paper straws over single-use plastics is one of the many initiatives we have at a property level centered on corporate social responsibility, protecting the ‘aina, or land, and honoring our resort’s special location in Ka‘anapali.”
Plastics cause a host of problems for the environment. They harm wildlife as well as humans, contaminate groundwater and never degrades.
“Wildlife become entangled in plastic, they eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young, and it is found littered in even extremely remote areas of the Earth,” states materials provided by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. “In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.”
Though restaurants and hotels have increasingly been ditching plastic straws–The Washington Post reported back in June that about 1,800 restaurants and organizations have so far stopped handing out the straws–Sheraton Maui is apparently the first resort in Hawaii to make such a sweeping change.
“This initiative has been spearheaded solely by Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and is not a Sheraton brand focused initiative,” said Sheraton Maui Resort spokesperson Katelyn Mayer in an Aug. 30 email. “Our resort believes that this is an important stride and we are proud to be the first resort in Hawaii to completely eliminate single-use plastic straws.”
While Mayer couldn’t say how many plastic straws the resort used in a year, she did say that environmental organizations have well documented the considerable damage single-use plastic straws do to the marine environment.
“Surfrider Foundation asserts that approximately 500 million plastic drinking straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone,” Mayer said in her Aug. 30 email. “We believe that eliminating single-use plastic straws and offering a marine-friendly paper straw, primarily by request only, will help yield big results in reducing the number of straws used and protecting the environment here at Pu‘u Keka‘a.”
Photo courtesy Sheraton Maui Resort