Cindy's blog April 19 2017 The Evil Straw!
If you’ve ever ordered a drink in a restaurant or bar, you mostly likely received a plastic straw. Have you ever thought about where those come from? How they’re made? Where do those straws go to when you’re done with them? And, why do we even need them anyway? This blog is about a subject I feel very strongly about-this obsession we have with our drinks needing straws. In researching this blog I wanted to put forth a good argument as to why people use them, but there was nothing. There is nothing to suggest scientifically it is more hygienic or that the drinks taste better (maybe one exception-a very thick milkshake)..nothing. It has just become a bad, unnecessary habit.
It’s estimated that nearly 500 million plastic straws are used every single day in the United States alone… 500 million. It is difficult to even imagine that many straws!
Plastic straws are “single-use disposable” waste items. A single-use disposable is anything you use once and toss (think plastic water bottles, to-go containers, plastic utensils, and plastic-lined disposable coffee cups). These single-use plastics are a problem because they take up landfill space, pollute our waterways, kill wildlife, and they are made from a material that isn’t digested by the planet. Small and lightweight, straws often never make it into recycling bins; the evidence of this failure is clearly visible on any beach. And although straws amount to a tiny fraction of ocean plastic, their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish. Video of scientists removing a straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose went viral in 2015. Once again I will spare you pictures and videos of turtles with straws imbedded in them. You are welcome!
Plastic is one of those things that is great for certain applications, but not good for things we use once and toss. It photo-degrades (which means it breaks down by sunlight) into tinier and tinier pieces that attract more organic pollutants. These pieces are mistaken as food and ingested by all kinds of land and marine wildlife – even plankton!
Very few places are (just) now accepting straws as part of recycling, but remember recycling is a costly application and when it comes to plastics, they’re usually only down-cycled into inferior plastics that usually can’t be recycled again.
I hope this blog makes you think about the waste that is a straw, and maybe you can get passionate and do something to reduce their use.
Use your consumer power and voice to ask for no straw with your drinks. Demonstrate how with a very small act—declining plastic straws in restaurants—you can make a difference. And if your waiter asks why you don’t want one, which they won’t tell them you are not afraid to out your lips on a glass and straws are unnecessary. The straw is, after all, the lowliest item in a long line of one-time-use plastic in the restaurant industry including cups, bottles, bags, lids and stirrers.
Bring Your Own
There are great plastic-free alternatives (stainless steel, bamboo, and sturdy glass) that you can have to bring with you anywhere you go! And, there are simple ways to clean them too! I have bought my own metal straws and they are amazing. (I use them at home like the celebrities do, with coffee/tea to keep your teeth white, yes, that is a thing)
Let your local restaurant, eatery, or cafe know that you’d like to see straws given out on request only, or switch to a compostable or paper version. In writing this I have dreamed up a sign that will go on my restaurant table declaring it a “Straw Free Zone”.
My friends will be so pleased…