We are on the precipice of a global environmental epidemic. In fact, many believe we are living through it today. Single-use, plastic materials are polluting our oceans, causing death among marine life, and ocean resources. One product in particular to the others, is influencing major issues; that being the plastic straw.
Straws create a huge environmental threat. They endanger animals like sea turtles, whales, sea birds, and many other marine life as they end up in the ocean, where they are usually consumed or lodged in the animal causing harmful affects.
On another note, these are items in which they do not decompose well. It’s said that a single straw can take up to 200 years to finally decompose (Plastic Garbage, web), if we are using millions of straws on a daily basis, the number of straws still decomposing is continuously rising at an exponential rate.
The solution to the problem is quite simple; stop using plastic straws. As simple as it might seem, it is not the most realistic considering Americans use 500 million drinking straws everyday, (NPS Commercial Services, 11/26/2013).The root of this problem is embedded in our fast paced, food industry. Worldwide industries, like McDonalds, having 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries distribute the most single-use plastic items (Meghan Miller). With recent reports and environmental studies, people have a hard time justifying why companies are continuing to use these single-use plastic items. The answer? Cheap materials that they can mass produce. In the companies defence, most often than not, they will reply that by going in a more environmentally friendly way, they’d be losing out on overall profit as the production would cost more.
Here’s a thought we should consider, why do we need straws? What’s wrong with drinking from a cup? So that we can put a lid on our drink? If that’s the only answer, consider what it is that is being implied. To prevent spills, you need another single-use piece of plastic that is flimsy and will spill the contents regardless of it actually being there. In the end, what’s the point of it all?
There are things people can do to eliminate their single-use plastic straw consumption. Use a water bottle that already has a straw attached, deny straws when going out to eat (drink from the cup!), and of course you can also opt for reusable straws. Reusable straws can be quite efficient. Typically created from steel or a glass material, they are easy to clean and portable.
Of course the last option to avoid plastic straws and help end the plastic epidemic, is simply to just not use them.
(Picture found here.)