In the late months of 2017, a new viral message began circulating social media platforms. It was not a brazen tweet from the President or a humorous meme. The newest craze was plastic straws, or, more specifically, the refusal of plastic straws. In the midst of an enormous amalgamation of serious environmental problems, the environmental concern that picked up the most attention was plastic straws and the waste that they create. This social movement spread beyond the reach of regular environmentalist networks and had a broad impact on the general public. Restaurants began displaying signs touting their decision not to include straws in customer drinks, sales of reusable metal straws soared (Glum, 2018), and even multinational corporations like Starbucks and American Airlines announced plans to phase out straw distribution (Chivers, 2018). The message and the movement both created a places on the political agendas in many jurisdictions, leading many governments to implement policies to get rid of plastic straws. But how did a piece of plastic as small as a straw create such a social impact? How does a straw become the center of a movement and find its way through the political process to become law? These questions are complicated, as movements and campaigns often are. This analysis seeks to examine the progression of the movement through lenses of the public policy process, social movements, and framing theory, to understand the importance of the communicative process in shaping environmental issues.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree.
Framing Environmental Movements: A Multidisciplinary Analysis of the Anti-Plastic Straw Movement.
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