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?
It's estimated that nearly 500 million plastic straws are used every single day in the United States alone.
Whoa. 500 million? Can you even imagine that many straws?
So what's wrong with these little plastic sippers?
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.
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.
Use your consumer power and voice to ask for no straw with your drinks.
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! Check out the links below to get your own!
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. You could even create a local petition to ban plastic-based straws in your city or town!
WHERE TO GET YOUR OWN REUSABLE STRAW?
I have used all kinds of reusable straws, and honestly, I've personally been pleased with them all. Here are a few links to some of my favorite companies that have reusable straws as well as other zero waste alternatives for you to try!
Refuse disposable straws every time you order any drink.
Remember! You still might get one even though you refused! That's ok! This isn't about being perfect! This is about bringing awareness to the single-use disposable problem. Be gentle on yourself and others.