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Get That Plastic Straw Out Of Your Emoji Drink, You Monster

by Rudy Sanchez on 04/10/2019 | 2 Minute Read

Momentum towards removing plastic straws from everyday life seems to gain momentum every day with cities, states and even the European Union considering or already having in place measures to ban single-use plastics. As the impact of plastic straws becomes better understood, their availability is shrinking, but there is one place where plastic straws flow freely—cyberspace.

Bacardi and Lonely Whale, an ocean-focused incubator that seeks collaborators on awareness campaigns have teamed up to remove plastic straws from the real world and now want to strike them from social media as well. They’ve sent a “cease and de-sip” letter to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that oversees and manages emojis, asking the consortium to remove the straws from the soda cup and cocktail emoji as part of their #thefuturedoesntsuck campaign which aims to eliminate one billion plastic straws by 2020.

“One of the world’s most popular cocktails is now the ‘tropical cocktail emoji’ with millions ‘served’ every year," said Jacob Briars, global advocacy director for Bacardi in a press release. "Yet every one of those comes with a straw. To draw attention to the use of straws in a lighthearted way, we hope we can get our digital symbols to reflect the work Bacardi, as well as hundreds of bars, and thousands of cocktail drinkers, are doing to reject single-use plastic straws in real life (the drinks are better too IRL)."

This isn’t the first time social issues and emojis have crossed paths. In 2016, Apple changed its implementation of the “pistol” emoji from a depiction of a real revolver to one of a toy water gun. While the move was met with some criticism at the time, other major tech companies have since followed suit with varying levels of commitment like Google, Microsoft, Samsung Facebook and Twitter.