Single Use Straws – Time for a Better Way

Remember when styrofoam was the topic of environmental disaster? Plastic straws are stealing the press these days. Soda fountain ads from the past were adorable, as adults and children alike sipped refreshing beverages from a plastic straw. Truly a fairy tale image, but what happens when the fairy tale is done and the soda gone? That little plastic straw takes an adventure with a not so happy ending at all.

Conservationists say millions of plastic straws go into trash daily without being recycled. In many cases they are single use and will join their cousin styrofoam and last about 100 years. In some cases a bird will swoop down and grab one off the trash pile or one will fall from the truck. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize the issue at hand, The Leatherback trust has shared a few videos of the damaging effects of the plastics in our ocean. Follow the link with the disclaimer the images may be hard to watch. The following video contains the removal of a plastic drinking straw from the nostril of an olive ridley seat turtle.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2J2qdOrW44&feature=share

I keep reading articles and hearing news stories about the nuisance of the single use plastic straw and the ripple effects they have on our daily lives. #mylaststraw and #strawstruck are a couple of popular hashtags that are paving the way to bring light to this convenient, ill served plastic commodity. And that’s what it comes down to doesn’t it. Convenience.

“When did it become inconvenient to, when capable, pick up the container and drink from it?”

Some companies are shifting away from single use plastic straws. Some hotel organizations are no longer purchasing them; cruise ship lines Queen Elizabeth II, and Royal Caribbean (apparently full ban due next year 2019) are on boarding this idea. SeaWorld is joining on the ban of single use plastic straws. Municipalities like Malibu, Seattle and Vancouver, Canada have banned them all together. I would expect parks at some point to banning them, if they haven’t begun already.

Why does all of this matter? The scale of overall plastic pollution is overwhelming. It’s been reported that plastic pollution in the ocean alone is in excess of 8 million tons. That’s like dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the open waters every minute.

Solutions 

Over the weekend, I saw a story on the local news about a restaurant that stopped using plastic straws, opting to create their own version made from pasta. If you’re still hungry you can eat the straw. Other choices include opting out of the straw when asked or inform your server. Hold the straw along with the other non-healthy essentials items. Steel straws and straws made from bamboo are durable alternatives to a single use plastic straw.

A local eatery purchases straws made of paper. I assume that the design of the material can withstand ice and my sparking water, but I decided to lift my own glass and have show a little sign of appreciation for our earth and do my part in keeping it’s inhabitants a little safer.

 

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