Skip To Content

    12 Reasons Why The World Will Use Less Plastic In 2019

    Single-use plastics were brought to their knees in 2018.

    The year 2018 may go down in history for a lot of reasons, but one of the better ones is that it was the year we took some major steps to end the prevalence of single-use plastics like plastic straws, bottles, and bags.

    Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

    And of course, living sustainably goes far beyond giving up single-use plastics, but it's an excellent place to start.

    Here are some of the ways people, legislatures, and companies tried to make the world a more plastic-free place:

    1. California became the first state to ban restaurants from automatically giving plastic straws to customers.

    Fortton / Getty Images

    In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law stating that full-service restaurants can only give plastic straws to customers if they request them, and important step in reducing the harmful ocean pollutants that still allows people who physically need them to receive them. In California, violators of the new straw policies can face fines and even jail time if they're found illegally handing out plastic straws willy-nilly more than once.

    2. And other major companies like Starbucks and McDonald's took their own measures to limit the distribution of plastic straws.

    Susan Vineyard / Getty Images

    In May, Starbucks unveiled a sippy cup-like lid to begin phasing out straws, and in July, it announced that it was completely abandoning plastic straws in favor of the lids and other biodegradable straw alternatives. For its part, McDonald's plans to test straw alternatives at some locations, keep plastic ones behind the cash register, and start offering biodegradable paper straws at its UK and Ireland locations. Meanwhile, Red Lobster started offering plastic straws only on request and set a plan to completely replace plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives by 2020.

    3. Oh, and that means a lot of places started banning or replacing those plastic coffee stirrers, too.

    Pamwalker68 / Getty Images

    Disney World, American Airlines, and cities like San Francisco all ditched the stirrers along with straws.

    4. Kroger, the nation's second largest grocery store, announced that it'll ban single-use plastic bags from all of its stores by 2025.

    Kroger

    In August, Kroger announced its goal to reduce plastic bag consumption in its Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Kroger, QFC, and Ralph's chains, with its CEO saying, "The plastic shopping bag's days are numbered." Washington-based QFC stores will be the first to implement the ban, which should be complete by 2019. In all stores, customers will be able to purchase reusable bags for $1-2, or have their groceries bagged in brown paper bags.

    5. Seattle became the first US city to ban plastic utensils and straws.

    Ut07 / Getty Images

    The city ban went into effect July 1, meaning Seattle's 5,000 restaurants now have to use reusable or compostable utensils, straws, and cocktail picks, and look for paper-based or other biodegradable alternatives.

    6. New York City successfully implemented a ban on single-use styrofoam that'll begin in 2019.

    Aslan Alphan / Getty Images

    It took a couple of legal battles, but in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio was able to announce a ban on styrofoam food service objects, like take-out containers, and packing peanuts. And honestly, who will really even miss those packing peanuts?

    7. Charleston, South Carolina, also made it known that by 2020, foam containers, in addition to plastic straws and plastic bags, will be forbidden.

    Cn0ra / Getty Images

    The waterside southern city joins other major municipalities that have issued overarching laws against plastics like San Diego, Boston, and Portland.

    8. South Korean coffee shops began only giving disposable cups to customers taking their orders to go.

    Photo by Anomaly on Unsplash

    As of this year, South Korean law states that anyone consuming coffee in a shop has to have it in a reusable mug. To-go cups are often plastic, or lined with it, which means they're as bad for the environment as the now-banned plastic bags.

    9. Carlsberg, the Danish beer brewery, phased in a plan to replace plastic rings with a recyclable glue.

    Carlsberg

    Those plastic rings are a nightmare for marine animals — and the environment as a whole — which is why Carlsberg announced in September that it would start using strong, recyclable glue to connect its six-packs of beer. This alternative will supposedly reduce the amount of plastic in multi-packs by as much as 76%.

    10. Gyms began to stop offering plastic bottles for thirsty exercisers.

    Baona / Getty Images

    Boutique gym company Xponential Fitness, which owns AKT, RowHouse, Club Pilates, StretchLab and CycleBar, began banning the sales of plastic bottles in June in favor of encouraging members to bring their own bottles and use water refill stations. Hopefully, other larger chains will soon start following suit.

    11. Fashion companies like Adidas and Everlane created strategies to eliminate the use of virgin plastic.

    Everlane

    Virgin plastic is basically the opposite of recycled plastic, and is one of the reasons the fashion industry can be incredibly wasteful. In response, Everlane introduced its ReNew collection in October, a line of jackets made with recycled plastic. Meanwhile, Adidas made it known in July that, by 2024, it would no longer use any virgin plastic in any of its apparel or footwear.

    12. And a plan was passed to ban single-use plastics in the entire European Union.

    Unsplash

    The European Parliament voted in favor of it in October and it will ban plastic cutlery and plates, cotton balls, straws, drink-stirrers, and balloon sticks when it goes into effect. Damn.