Straws are one of the most common single used plastic produced. According to Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup report (2017), the plastic straws collected from beaches would be 145 times the height of One World Trade Center in New York city (541 metres). Among the top 10 most collected item, plastic straw was found to be the 7th. Plastic straws have become a problem because we not only get to use them once, they are also not being recycled. Being lightweight, they are blown out of bins into the waterways and then end up in the ocean polluting water and harming sea life. Plastic straws have become a daily part of people’s life that it has now been taken for granted. Do you really need a plastic straw to drink from a cup?
For a few people, straws might be non-negotiable due to medical reasons such as inability to chew or drink from a cup. The environmental impact of plastic is increasingly a global issue. It has been recorded to be one of the most found ocean litter during cleanups.
Plastic straws are type 5 plastic and they are recyclable. However, they have proved difficult to recycle because of their size. They fall through the cracks of conveyor belts and get lost in the sorting process. Being made from polypropylene, they do not biodegrade even when they find their way into landfills.
What Can You Do About It?
Several countries in their bid to combat plastic pollution have already placed a ban on plastic straws. The best way to keep plastic straws out of the environment is not to use them. You have to adopt the habit of drinking without a straw and if you must use one, chose eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straw such as biodegradable paper straws, stainless steel straws, glass straws, silicone straws or biodegradable plastic straws. Most of these reusable alternatives comes with a cleaning brush.
The fight against plastic straws is not really about straws. It is just a section of how we can combat single use plastics and plastic pollution. Conscious consumer choice is the key to a plastic free future. Do not forget to educate others about the negative environmental impact of plastic straws.