McDonalds shareholders voted down a proposal that would have potentially set the company on a path toward reducing the number of single-use plastic straws it distributes.

The proposal merely would have required McDonalds to investigate and submit a report on efforts to find alternatives to plastic straws and to assess the business risks associated with continuing to use plastic straws. Despite the noncommittal nature of the proposal, it garnered votes from less than 10% of McDonalds shareholders.

In January, McDonalds pledged to source all packaging from renewable or recycled sources by 2025. And that was a hugely laudable step forward. But this week’s shareholder vote sent a message that there will be no additional measures to protect the planet. To keep pushing forward to address the immense amount of plastic straw waste it is responsible for would be “redundant” in their eyes. The company stated that the requested report would divert funds from its current initiatives and have no benefit.

Here at Lady Freethinker we write about single-use plastics quite a bit. That’s because they are causing a massive problem for the environment, animals, and public health. The images, stories, and statistics piling up and the real world implications of a throwaway culture are clear. Turtles’, birds’, fish’s, and other sea dwelling creatures’ homes are being trashed, and animals are often killed and maimed by human waste.

It is past time for humans to collectively take responsibility and move more purposefully toward a sustainable and less needlessly wasteful way of life. This decision by McDonalds’ shareholders is disheartening, but it is likely not the end of the story. Advocates are ramping up pressure and seeing their efforts pay off. For example, in March McDonalds announced phasing-out plastic straws in its UK stores.

But for now, the world’s leading fast food restaurant chain has tabled the discussion of eliminating single-use plastic straws across the globe.

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