Every day, Americans use more than 500 million straws. Lined up one after the other, that’s equivalent to 913,000 trips around the bases of a baseball diamond, according to Shedd Aquarium.
In an effort to reduce plastic waste, the White Sox announced Thursday they will eliminate plastic straws at Guaranteed Rate Field for the rest of the season. Drinks will instead come with biodegradable straws upon request.
The change will take effect for the South Siders’ game against Houston on Sunday, which is Earth Day. The move makes the White Sox the first team in Major League Baseball to ditch disposable straws entirely, which is also a first among professional sports teams in Chicago.
“We are honored to be the first ballpark to take the step of reducing our single-use plastic straws for nearly a full season, but we certainly hope that we will not be the last as there is more work to be done to protect our environment,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing, in a statement.
The team’s decision was made in partnership with Shedd Aquarium as part of its ongoing #SheddTheStraw campaign that encourages people to switch from single-use plastic straws to reusable or biodegradable alternatives.
According to Shedd, much of the plastic used in straws winds up in landfills or ingested by marine animals. Researchers estimate that 90 percent of seabirds and many whales and dolphins have ingested plastics, including straws.
Scientists predict that without action, the amount of plastics in oceans will exceed the amount of fish, pound for pound, by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum.
By eliminating plastic straws for the rest of the 2018 season, the White Sox expect to keep more than 215,000 disposable straws from being used.
“We commend the White Sox for helping us highlight small changes like 'Shedding the Straw' that can make a huge impact for the health of our oceans, lakes and rivers,” said Bridget Coughlin, Shedd’s president and CEO, in a statement. “We are proud to stand as a partner for organizations and individuals looking for ways they can help aquatic animals.”
Shedd experts will be at Sunday’s game to hand out giveaways and educate fans about ways to reduce their use of plastics.
The White Sox are offering discounted tickets for the game as part of the Earth Day celebration.
April 3: For the first time, Shedd Aquarium will host a full week of events leading up to Earth Day on April 22.
June 15: Americans use an estimated 500 million straws each day, but a Shedd Aquarium initiative is trying to put a dent in that figure. Last week, nearly two dozen restaurants joined the effort.
April 12, 2017: With an eye toward Earth Day, Shedd Aquarium has launched a campaign encouraging people to switch from single-use plastic straws to reusable or biodegradable alternatives.