It’s not as hard as you think.
What do an iced coffee, a soda, and a smoothie have in common?
People use plastic straws to drink them. And, it turns out, that’s a really bad thing.
Plastic straws — dropped into drive-thru bags by servers, grabbed from buckets, or plucked from dispensers — are polluting the planet at a staggering rate.
According to Get Green Now, in the year of 2017, Americans alone used about 500 million plastic straws each day (enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times!), that’s a lot of trash and potential litter.
Being made from polypropylene, a byproduct of petroleum, it takes an incredible amount of energy and natural resources to manufacture these straws. In addition, plastic straws aren’t recyclable because they’re generally made from single-use plastic and are so flimsy that they can’t endure the recycling process. In the best condition, they can last 200 years before degrading down into smaller pieces that leach toxins into the water and eventually blanket the sea floor or end up in landfills. But no matter where they end up, they will never disappear from Earth. And once straws blanket the ocean, they can end up killing marine life and birds at an alarming rate.
Studies have found that straws are not only terrible for the environment but also bad for your body that “causing gas and bloating, increasing the likelihood of cavities, and leading to excess sugar intake and wrinkles around your mouth.”
“What we really want to do is bring a little levity to the issue in a way that creates a global conversation,” said Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, a nonprofit committed to protecting the oceans and marine life. “There are so few things related to ocean health that an individual can actually take action on where they can see the impact of their actions right away.”
“Straws are really that singular item that every day someone can say no to, and it doesn’t cause us problems as individuals,” she added. “It’s not that hard to give up straws.”
So how can you stop using plastic straws in your life?
Here are some alternatives.
An eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws, the concept was conceived as part of a campaign to reduce plastic pollution. Made of 100% natural, biodegradable, compostable, and affordable materials, rice straws will come in all sizes. Rice straws manufacturer said that because it is made from wheat and vegetable flour, this straw can be eaten (however, it should not be used too much during the day). In particular, They have not used colorings as the regular straws, this rice flour straw is dyed from completely natural materials such as spinach leaves, beetroot, black sesame …
Even if you don’t eat this straw, its lifespan is very short, which can be easily decomposed in just a few months compared to the horrifying long lifespan of 500 years of plastic straws.
Vinastraws is now the most reliable and prestige rice straws supplier that give customers using natural raws more choices in the future.
Made of recyclable and a more-eco-friendly material, glass straws come in a variety of fun colors and different sizes and shapes. These straws are handmade from non-toxic glass that is safe for drinking hot or cold drinks through. Glass straws remain sturdy enough for day-to-day-use and their transparency can help you get them clean while the different coloured tips give them good looks and make it easy to remember which drink is yours. It’s easy to tell when they’re properly clean, making these straws a top choice for anyone concerned about possible health implications.
Stainless steel straws are reusable. They can last for ages and their silvery color makes a stylish addition to any drink. This is the same material used for cutlery and it won’t rust or break and usually leaves no metallic aftertaste. Stainless steel conducts heat and cold, which can be refreshing in the case of icy drinks. These straws can be used to enjoy all sorts of delicious drinks including frozen cocktails, iced tea, fruit juices, milkshakes, and smoothies. You will, however, need to wait for your hot drink to cool before consuming it if you’re using a stainless-steel straw. A set of stainless steel straws would be the perfect gift for anyone who is fitness conscious and concerned about the environment.
Though neither eco-friendly in terms of production nor recyclable, silicone straws are reusable and last a very long time, and on the long-term, that’s going to save you from using a lot of single-use plastic straws. On top of that, they are recyclable. Inexpensive compared to many alternatives, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Foldable, flexible, and highly portable, they can work perfectly with the most popular tumblers, travel mugs, and sippy cups. You won’t taste rubber or cause damage if you accidentally bump the straws against your teeth.
Compostable bamboo straws
Bamboo drinking straws are completely biodegradable and compostable. They’re both marine-friendly and reusable. These straws are handcrafted and free of dyes, which make a beautiful conversation piece. Since bamboo is a natural material, these straws will eventually fray and crash. However, you can increase their life span by removing them from the drinks when you’re not using them.
Compostable paper straws
Used in many restaurants and bars as a more eco-friendly, compostable, and commercially viable alternative to plastic, paper straws are also an option for personal use in cold drinks. They come in many different colors and designs, and are perfect for any occasion! Besides being cute, paper straws are much better for the environment than plastic straws and decompose in just 30-60 days. Some paper straws also come in bendable versions. However, paper straws still require trees and there’s an intensive manufacturing process to turn the wood pulp into paper.
Straws made from straw
These straws are the simplest replacement for single-use plastic straws. Instead, the stems of grain that would otherwise go to waste after harvesting are repurposed into more-eco-friendly single-use straws. These require no extra effort to clean and they have no smell or taste. However, the straws aren’t ideal for thick drinks such as smoothies due to the narrow stems. By using the natural straws as an income source farmers are able to keep the land from being uninhibited or other commerce which destroys the natural ecosystem here and further endangers these beautiful creatures.
While the straws listed above are tried and true methods to help keep some plastic out of the ocean, the alternatives listed below are also worth considering.
Appear in a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, this collapsible straw from FinalStraw has become the darling of the reusable straw movement. The fun introduction video features a mermaid showcasing the stainless-steel straw, quickly folding up into a compact case that attaches to your key chain. While they make the inside of the straw from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) tubing, these straws are tipped with food-grade silicone so it doesn’t damage your teeth on accidental impact, and the world considers this a more-eco-friendly solution as it’s recyclable and requires less energy for production.
Straws made from uncooked pasta compost quickly while still holding up to a cold drink for hours. They are a spaghetti shape with a large hole in the middle – almost the same as a plastic straw. Many bars and restaurants around the world use them exclusively in lieu of plastic straws. The straws are biodegradable, meaning they can be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms, pose no threat to animals, and do not need to be recycled as they are edible. In addition, they do not go mushy and do not affect any tastes of the drinks they are used in.
Loliware advertises their seaweed-based, edible straws as “tasty, marine-degradable, and hyper-compostable.” The idea for these is fueling the imagination of many. Unlike another material often used for compostable utensils – PLA which is often made from corn starch it breaks down as easily as something like a banana peel, so it can compost in a home system rather than requiring industrial composting equipment.
It’s a long way to make the world plastic-free, but we are not allowed to give up. We can replace plastic with a reusable one. Avoiding plastic straws won’t save the oceans or the world on its own, but as we’ve seen it is clear that consumer habits also must change. There was a time when we did not rely on plastic much at all. The world has changed plenty since then, but there is no reason why we cannot again experience a shift in our collective habits – this time for the better.