On Monday, Starbucks announced that it will be phasing out straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020. The initiative, beginning in Vancouver and Seattle stores, will eventually eliminate the use of over 1 billion straws annually. But what's the point of removing their trademark green straw? And why should you care about going strawless?

1. Starbucks is the first major brand to do this—and they want everyone to follow suit.

Though the phase out will occur over the next two years, Starbucks is leading the charge among large brands to join eco-conscious movements in abandoning single-use plastic straws. As part of the formal announcement on Monday, Starbucks' director of packaging sourcing, Chris Milne, reflected that "Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit." And the initiative was inspired by partners and customers calling on the company to do better, so know that the choices you make as a consumer actually do make a difference.

2. Straws are truly awful for the ocean.

A recent report by the MacArthur Foundation revealed that given projected growth in global consumption, a business-as-usual scenario would result in oceans containing more plastics than fish by 2050. And though straws may seem like a minute portion of the world's plastic consumption, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup 2018 Cleanup Report revealed that plastic straws are actually the seventh most common item collected during ocean cleanups. Plastic pollution is a serious problem, and straws are major culprits of contamination.

3.  Plastic straws aren't even recyclable.

Just because you recycle other plastics doesn't mean you can recycle plastic straws. Because most plastic straws are so small (about a quarter of an inch wide), they don't actually make it through the recycling sorter. The straws generally fall through sorting screens and get mixed with other materials that are too small to be categorized. At the end of the day, these objects either contaminate recycling loads or end up getting tossed in the trash. 

4. Fish, seabirds and whales are ingesting straws and dying.

Plastics pose a huge threat to wildlife, especially marine animals whose waters are contaminated with observed concentrations of up to 360,395 plastic pieces per square mile. Plastic waste is harmful to wildlife through both entanglement and ingestion, though ingestion is much more prevalent. Ingestion of plastic is known cause everything from physical blockage in animals' guts to toxin-induced organ damage.

Seabirds especially are known to ingest large quantities of plastic, hurting both individual seabirds through physical degradation and species at large through the transmission of toxic chemicals. In a recent study, the US National Academy of Sciences predicted that "plastic will be found in the digestive tracts of 99% of all seabird species by 2050 and that 95% of the individuals within these species will have ingested plastic by the same year". So yes, that straw you left on the beach is causing actual damage.

5. So are sea turtles.

This whole problem first became relevant for me when I saw a video of scientists removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose. I won't link the video, because it's pretty graphic, but a quick Google search will find it for you if you so choose. It was enough for me to swear off single-use straws. According to National Geographic, the turtle may have swallowed the straw, gagged on it, and then tried to throw it back up—resulting in the nasal blockage that the video shows.

6. But even if you're not trying to save marine life, straws are giving you wrinkles.

I think not killing other creatures is a pretty good reason to stop useless sipping. But, if the effects of straws on the rest of the world aren't enough to change your mind, there are plenty of personal reasons not to use straws. That old wives tale about straws and smoking causing wrinkles around your mouth? Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau confirmed the rumor in an interview with Marie Claire. She explained that the movement your mouth has to make when drinking out of a straw "will encourage the breakdown of collagen and elasticity more quickly, causing unnecessary wrinkles and lines". And who is searching for more unnecessary wrinkles?

7. Straws don't actually help protect your teeth.

Drinks like coffee are known to stain your teeth, so some people think that drinking from a straw will prevent the degradation of your tooth enamel. But think about it—you still feel the drink inside of your mouth. As noted by Mark Burhenne, DDS, your tongue's constant contact with your teeth means that if anything touches your tongue, it will also get on your teeth. So if you can taste the offending drink, your teeth have been exposed. Straws don't seem worth the effort if you're not actually making a difference.

8. Straws actually might be making you gassy.

I feel like this one doesn't need much explaining, because no one is looking to make themselves more gas-inclined, but here's the science. Drinking out of a straw may cause extra air bubbles to form in your stomach, which could make you feel gassy and/or bloated.

9. And if you must use a straw, use compostable/reusable ones.

I don't want to discount any of the legitimate reasons that people may require the use of straws. Those with varying mobilities often rely on straws to drink independently, and need those straws to be able to bend in order to accommodate all temperatures and textures. In the past, plastic straws were the only option that provided this autonomy. But with recent advancements in straw technology, there are more flexible options than ever before. Its at least worth looking into if you need or prefer a straw. 

There are plenty of reasons to abandon plastic straws, from their environmental impact to their personal effects. And with Starbucks stepping up to the plate and providing non-plastic straw options to all of its customers, it's time for other businesses—and all of us—to step up too.