This eco-initiative is taking off.

drinks paper straws
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Here's one more reason to finally snag yourself a reusable straw. Your favorite go-to chain for morning coffee, Starbucks, announced Monday that it will phase out single-use plastic straws from all its locations by 2020.

In place of straws, the company created a new lid that features a teardrop-shaped opening for just-as-easy sipping. This lid will be used for all iced drinks except the Frappuccino, which will be served with a straw made from sustainable material, such as paper.

The coffee chain isn't the only one making this major eco change lately either. This fall, 120 restaurants in nine states across the country will be saying no to the single-use plastic straw, joining the hundreds of other food establishments that have done so both nationwide and globally.

Chicago-based restaurant group, and one of the largest to implement such a policy, Lettuce Entertain You, made the green decision last month in an effort to reduce their environmental footprint. Starting in October, in place of plastic straws, the restaurants will be switching to biodegradable options including hay and paper, or no straws at all, and only offer straws upon customer request.

"Lettuce has been progressive since we began," the group's President R.J. Melman tells us. "We were one of the first restaurant groups to have non-smoking sections. Doing what is right for the earth, our guests, and the public has always been a part of the company's DNA."

With Americans alone discarding 500 million straws daily, the single-use piece of plastic has become known as a major "gateway plastic" - seemingly harmless but quickly adding up to the 8 million tons of plastic that ends up in the oceans each year.

Fortunately, Lettuce Entertain You isn't the only restaurant group skipping plastic straws at the dinner table. Earlier this year, various culinary all-stars around New York, including Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer, decided to nix plastic straws in all of their restaurants while over 1,300 McDonald's chains in the UK are also implementing similar initiatives. Meanwhile, entire cities, like Seattle and Malibu, are vowing to skip not only plastic straws but many other single-use plastics like take-out containers and utensils.

And while the world may still have a ways to go before it's completely plastic-free, Melman believes big strides like these are a good start. "Large companies can really move the needle and influence change much quicker. Want to help keep our oceans free of plastic this summer (and beyond!)? Join us by pledging to #ChangeTheDay below:


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