By Amelia Harris
Staff Writer for Wake Up World
“It’s Just One Plastic Straw” Said 8 Billion People!
Plastic straws are one of the most commonly used single-use plastics in the world, but their impact on the environment is horrific. According to National Geographic, Americans alone use 500 million straws every day, and around 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. These straws take hundreds of years to break down, and they often end up in the ocean, where they harm marine life and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.
The Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws
Plastic straws are not biodegradable and are made from petroleum-based plastics, which are toxic to the environment. When plastic straws are discarded, they do not decompose but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. These microplastics can be harmful to marine life, as they are often mistaken for food and ingested. Plastic straws can also entangle and suffocate marine life, leading to their death.
In addition to harming marine life, plastic straws also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the production and disposal of plastic straws in the United States alone generate about 175 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year. These emissions contribute to climate change, which has devastating impacts on the planet, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and loss of biodiversity.
The Need for Sustainable Alternatives
Given the horrific impacts of plastic straws, it is clear that we need sustainable alternatives. One of the best alternatives to plastic straws is organic bamboo straws. Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource that is biodegradable and compostable. Bamboo straws are a natural and eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws, and they can be used multiple times.
The Benefits of Organic Bamboo Straws
Organic bamboo straws offer a range of benefits compared to plastic straws. First, they are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource that can be harvested without causing damage to the environment. Bamboo also grows without the need for pesticides or fertilizers, making it a healthier and more natural option.
Second, bamboo straws are durable and long-lasting. Unlike plastic straws, which break down quickly and can only be used once, bamboo straws can be used multiple times. They are also easy to clean, and they do not retain odors or flavors, which means they can be used for a variety of different drinks.
Finally, bamboo straws are aesthetically pleasing and add a natural touch to any drink. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, making them a versatile choice for any occasion.
There are numerous other eco-friendly straw alternatives available that can help reduce plastic waste and contribute to sustainable living. In addition to glass, stainless steel, silicone, paper, and wheat straws, some other options include bamboo, metal, and even reusable plant-based straws made from materials like cornstarch or avocado pits. Each of these options has unique features and benefits that cater to different preferences and needs.
Avocado pits straws
Avocado pits straws are a new and innovative eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws. These straws are made from the pits of avocados that would otherwise go to waste, making them a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice. Avocado pit straws are durable and can withstand hot and cold beverages without breaking down, making them a practical option for everyday use. Additionally, they are naturally antibacterial and do not contain harmful chemicals, making them safe for people of all ages to use.
Glass straws are a great option due to their reusability and durability. They are made from high-quality glass that is heat-treated to make them sturdy and resistant to breakage. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are easy to clean. Additionally, glass straws are non-toxic and do not leach chemicals into drinks, making them safe for all ages.
Stainless Steel Straws
Stainless steel straws are another eco-friendly alternative. Like glass straws, they are reusable and durable, making them a long-lasting option for those who want to reduce their environmental impact. They come in a range of shapes and sizes and are easy to clean with soap and water or a straw cleaner. They are also dishwasher-safe, making them a convenient option for busy individuals or families.
Silicone straws are a non-toxic, soft and flexible alternative to plastic straws. Made from food-grade silicone, they can withstand high temperatures without leaching harmful chemicals. They are ideal for children and people with disabilities, as they are safe and easy to handle. Silicone straws are easy to clean, as they are dishwasher-safe and can also be boiled to sanitize them.
Paper straws are an eco-friendly option for those who prefer a disposable straw. While not as durable as other options, they are biodegradable and compostable, meaning they break down naturally over time and do not contribute to landfill waste. They are made from sustainable materials and are free from harmful chemicals, making them a safe choice for the environment and for people.
Wheat straws are a unique and sustainable option for those looking for an eco-friendly straw. Made from the stem of wheat plants, they are biodegradable and compostable. In addition to being environmentally friendly, wheat straws are also edible, making them a fun and unique option for drinks or as a snack.
Taking Action to Reduce Plastic Straw Waste
To reduce plastic straw waste, it is important to take action at both the individual and societal level. Individuals can make a difference by switching to sustainable alternatives, like bamboo straws, and by reducing their overall use of single-use plastics. This can be done by bringing a reusable water bottle, shopping with reusable bags, and saying no to plastic straws in restaurants.
At the societal level, governments and businesses can implement policies to reduce plastic straw waste. For example, some cities have implemented bans or restrictions on plastic straws, and some businesses have begun using sustainable alternatives, like bamboo straws. These efforts can make a significant impact on reducing plastic straw waste and protecting the environment.
In conclusion, plastic straws have a horrific impact on the environment, including harming marine life and contributing to climate change. To reduce plastic straw waste and protect the environment, it is important to take action at both the individual and societal level by switching to sustainable alternatives like organic bamboo straws, reducing overall use of single-use plastics, and implementing policies to reduce plastic straw waste.
It is our responsibility to take care of our planet and preserve it for future generations. By choosing sustainable alternatives and taking action to reduce plastic straw waste, we can make a positive impact and help protect our planet from the devastating effects of plastic pollution.
- National Geographic. (2018). Here’s How Much Plastic Trash Is Littering the Earth. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/
- Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science advances, 3(7), e1700782. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.1700782
- Chae, Y., An, Y. J., & Kwon, O. Y. (2018). Biodegradation of plastic straws in seawater and identification of associated bacteria. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 360, 760-769. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132502/
- A brief history of how plastic straws took over the world. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/news-plastic-drinking-straw-history-ban
About the author:
Amelia Harris is a writer and eco-activist, interested in health and all things esoteric, with a passion for sharing good news and inspiring stories. She is a staff writer for Wake Up World.