Why Plastic Straws Are a Problem
Many people take plastic straws for granted as a part of daily life if they are having a soda, smoothie, or other chilled beverage. But as more and more people are starting to look at the dangers of plastic pollution, straws are coming under their scrutiny as being harmful to the environment.
Recent moves by certain fast food restaurants and other eateries to ban plastic straws has been met with approval by those who want to cut back on plastic waste as quickly as possible.
The Problem with Plastic Straws
Plastic straws are not recycled. Estimates show that Americans throw away half a billion every single day, including drinking straws, plastic coffee stirrers, cocktail straws, and so on. That is enough to circle the Earth twice, or fill 125 school buses. Just think how many straws that is in one year. They may be small, but they are part of the eight million tons of plastic dumped into the oceans every year.
While it is true that a small number of people need to drink with a straw for medical reasons such as having trouble chewing and swallowing, it is also true there are alternatives to plastic. Paper straws are the most obvious example. But now there are also glass, stainless steel and bamboo reusable straws. The only downside is remembering to take your straw with you everywhere when you dine out, and to not leave it behind at the end of your meal.
The Effect of Plastic on the Environment
Plastics can sit in landfills for more than 70 years. In the ocean, they have become a floating obstacle course that kills millions of marine animals every year. The plastic debris also washes up on the beaches, leading to unsanitary conditions and an unsuitable environment for marine life who nest, live or find food on the beach.
Plastic increases the temperature of the water and makes it more acidic, therefore killing off many sensitive microorganisms upon which the balance of ocean life depends. Marine animals can get entangled in plastic and drown, or eat it and die of poisoning.
What You Can Do to Save the Planet
There are a number of things you can do to save the planet. The first is to say no to straws. The second is to start educating others about the pollutions straws cause, and the harm they do. There are a number of groups that focus on spreading the word, including:
In addition to taking your own personal pledge to go straw-free, and encouraging friends and family to do so as well, there are a number of awareness-raising activities that can help. Discuss the issue in the local eateries you attend. Give copies of this printout, or leave it when you pay your check:
An obvious benefit to most businesses is the amount of money saved by not buying plastic straws. Paper ones can be given on demand if requested, and will be much cheaper.
You might even be able to get local businesses to sign a pledge and show that they are committed to greening their businesses:
Plastic straws may seem like a small thing to cut down on, but it can have a huge beneficial impact on the environment.