The way we act, eat, work, and play impacts our surroundings, which is why it is vital to adopt a way of living that works in balance with us and the planet we live on. While plastic straws only represent a small portion of a broader issue, taking little steps is the starting point for addressing bigger sustainability challenges. Drinking straws made of plastic is nothing but trouble because—
- You will be investing in an item that is inevitably bound to become waste. Avoiding straws will not only reduce the quantity of trash but also help save money.
- Straws wind up in water bodies resulting in various problems such as dirty shorelines, microplastics in the water, disruption in local tourist economies, and harming marine lives.
The Problem with Plastic Straws
The alarm for the quantity of single-use plastic objects entering our daily lives has long been ringing and has only continued to get louder in recent years. Americans alone use half a billion plastic straws every day. When these straws have done their part and are no longer useful, what comes next? What happens to the discarded straws?
- Plastic straws are sent to the landfills
Plastic straws cannot decompose, meaning they are non-biodegradable. Microscopic organisms cannot consume them after they have been disposed of. This results in a slew of plastic straws polluting landfills for up to 200 years as they deteriorate and break down into progressively smaller pieces known as microplastics. During this breakdown process, dangerous chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), which have been linked to health issues and environmental damage are released.
- Plastic straws are not recyclable
The recycling rate of the million metric tons of plastic globally produced sits at less than 10%. Most of the drinking straws are made of polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer that is categorized as type 5 plastic and recycled less frequently. In the U.S., the recycling rate of polypropylene plastic is just 1-3%. This means the environmental effects of plastic straws can last for centuries.
- Plastic straws are notorious ocean polluters
Plastic straws earning the seventh position in most frequently collected beach litter is an indication that the chances of these small seemingly insignificant items entering our rivers are very high. The super lightweight and slender shape of plastic straws makes them easy targets for the wind to carry to far-off locations, including our water bodies.
Plastic straws contribute significantly to plastic pollution despite their diminutive size because we use billions of them annually. Scientists project that plastic will outweigh the fish in the oceans by 2050 if we continue to allow the plastic to infiltrate waterways at this current rate. Countries and nations across the globe are taking steps to limit or outlaw single-use plastics and improve environmental conditions, including the world's biggest plastic polluter, i.e., the United States. U.S. states that have implemented a single-use plastic straw ban include California, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Maine, New Jersey, and New York.
To end the era of single-use plastic straws, policymakers and organizations alone cannot do it. It will require the contribution of all of us as well. As consumers, we must strive to always opt for more environmentally friendly alternatives over plastic straws. If you haven't already, this National Skip the Straw Day is the perfect occasion to start making the change!
How To Honor National Skip the Straw Day
The best solution is to drink your liquids straw-free! Before the invention of straws, lifting and tilting the cup to drink was the norm. So, why can't we go back to these simpler times? If you have a straw habit and it is an absolute must to use one, go for environmentally responsible substitutes made of stainless steel, glass, bamboo, or other reusable, recyclable, and biodegradable materials.
Here at Terra Thread, we avoid the usage of materials that cannot biodegrade and have committed to using organic cotton in our products. We strive to reflect our relationship with the environment and fellow humans through ethical business values and pushing goals and initiatives that promote a healthy planet!
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