Did you know? Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. In only the past twenty years, people have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.
While we all love sipping on a juice or smoothie or might pop a straw into a water bottle like it's no big deal, plastic straws are actually doing a lot of harm to the environment. Just as bad as plastic bags, bottles and takeaway coffee cups, straws end up in landfill and our waterways, polluting the environment with non-biodegradable waste that simply isn't necessary.
Why are plastic straws so bad?
Plastic can take hundreds, sometimes thousands of years to actually break down.1 Think about it this way: Every piece of plastic you have ever put in the rubbish bin probably still exists. If this isn't alarming enough, as plastic decomposes it leaches harmful gases including Methane into the environment.2 Because they're only used once and then thrown away, plastic straws are one of the biggest culprits for ending up in landfill. To make things worse, cafes and restaurants will often place not one but two straws in cold drinks, doubling the damage. Straws are also one of the most picked up items during beach clean ups.3 Recently an Australian diver, Kasey Turner, went snorkelling in Manly beach and found a whopping 319 straws after just 20 minutes in the water. 24 hours later, she found 294 more straws in the exact same spot.4 The bottom line is that they either end up as toxic landfill or in the ocean where they're a danger to marine life.
How to reduce plastic straw waste
The simplest change you can make is to stop using plastic straws, but cutting straws from your life entirely is easier said than done, especially if you're partial to a morning smoothie like me! Reusable straws offer a great alternative by transforming a single-use product into a completely sustainable option. They make a great eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic straws in that they can be washed and reused over and over again, and are fully recyclable once they've been used for years. This is a great idea for use at home or when you're on the go, but it can be a bit trickier to BYO straw to restaurants and cafes. Just politely ask the waiter or bartender to hold your straw, and go without if you can.
Stainless Steel Straws
A great alternative! They come in a pack of six and are made from food-grade stainless steel, so they'll never leach any toxins into your drinks. They even come with their own perfectly sized cleaning brush so they can be easily and thoroughly cleaned after every use, or you can just pop them in the dishwasher. Durable yet lightweight, they help keep drinks cold, can help save you from buying bags of plastic straws all the time, and will last for years.
Source: 1ABC, 2Clean Up Australia, 3IS Foundation,
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