31 Mar 2017 - Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel interviewed Adrian Grenier, founder of Lonely Whale Foundation and former Entourage star, about his new Strawless Ocean initiative.
I spoke to Adrian Grenier, founder of Lonely Whale Foundation and former Entourage star, about his new Strawless Ocean initiative, why he has decided to make a positive impact on our oceans, how he is getting his message to the right people, some of his success stories and the big challenges he faces ahead.
Through Strawless Ocean, the Lonely Whale Foundation is aiming to reduce the use of plastic straws nationwide with the goal of keeping 500 million plastic straws out of the ocean in 2017. This new campaign will officially launch during plastic pollution summit Breaking Down Plastic in Charleston, South Carolina today. With a garbage truck worth of plastic dumped into the sea every minute and 500 million plastic straws used per day, our oceans, beaches and marine life are suffering. Strawless Ocean will encourage bars and restaurants to switch to sustainable plastic straw alternatives, like paper straws and cocktail stir sticks.
Dan Schawbel: Why did you launch the Strawless Ocean initiative and what impact are you trying to make with it?
Adrian Grenier: By the year 2050 it is estimated that we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish. That’s just 33 years from now — our lifetime! That number is overwhelming, as is the problem of ocean plastic, so together with Lonely Whale I wanted to create a campaign that inspired, not scared, people to take action for our ocean. We sought out a tool for empowerment that everyone could use, no matter their socio-economic or geographic position. That being said, I do want to make sure I mention that we are not saying no to all straws, simply plastic straws. Straws are important for those with physical limitations and we’re working with the disabled community to ensure marine-friendly alternatives that work for this community are available.
Schawbel: Most people overlook the impact of straws on the environment. When did you decide you would tackle the issue of plastic straws ruining our oceans and what can the average person do to help your mission?
Grenier: We use 500 million plastic straws everyday in the U.S., that means each of us encounter nearly two straws daily. So while plastic straws may seem trivial in the grand scheme of the plastic pollution problem, we are viewing straws as our “gateway plastic” for both consumers and industry leaders alike to understand and take action against all single use plastics. Individuals can take our pledge on strawlessocean.org. We also have on our website tips and a guidebook for restaurants, hotels, bars, public venues and other establishments to make the switch from plastic to a marine-friendly option.
Schawbel: How are you getting your message out there to bars and restaurants to prevent them from using plastic straws?
Grenier: My team at Lonely Whale is working directly with some of the largest venues and also key restaurants and chefs to help them switch from plastic straws to alternatives like paper, metal, or glass, bamboo or reed straws — whichever best suits their needs. We also recognize the importance of teamwork and so are also building a grassroots movement of Team Lonely Whale ambassadors, arming them with information to help make changes in their immediate communities. These individuals are backed by our 20+ organizational partners.