The Not So Innocent Plastic Straw

The Not So Innocent Plastic Straw

Published by Anne Altor on Aug 16th 2017

A single use orange juice drink box with a straw inserted into the box

Drink box with straw

When you eat out and order a drink,

the drink often arrives with a plastic straw, right? And straws come with the packaging for single-serve drink boxes and other products. Have you become adapted to the 'convenience' of slurping through a plastic tube? What are the impacts of that little straw on the environment?

The Last Plastic Straw estimates that 500 million plastic straws are thrown out every DAY in the US alone. That's enough straws to wrap around the Earth more than 2 times!! Many of these straws end up in the oceans along with tons of other plastic trash, where they're eaten by fish, they get embedded in sea turtles' noses, and they entangle other animals. A 2015 study estimates that 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic debris from ocean pollution.

A massive multicolored bundle of plastic straws in a swirl pattern

Huge bundle of plastic straws

What is a straw?

It's a polypropylene tube (from petroleum) packaged in paper (from trees), then packed and shipped in plastic or cardboard containers, which takes more petroleum, other materials and trees. Can straws be recycled? Yes, but do most restaurants recycle them? I'm not counting on that. Even recycled plastic stays in the environment and contributes to the global burden of plastic waste. Is the convenience worth the cost to the planet and other creatures?

Mohito in glass with mint leaves, ice and black plastic straws, showing hand holding the glass at bottom of picture, with black and white background

Cocktail with straw

The solution lies with you and me:

Say NO to straws! This means being proactive. At restaurants, I ask up front for "Water please, with no straw." "Biodegradable" straws aren't a real solution. They also require resources to produce and transport, all for a habit we don't need.

Ask your favorite eateries

to stop giving straws out automatically, or better yet to not offer them at all. Encourage them to take a stand. And tell your friends and family about the impact of straws and these simple things they can do to help reduce this pollution problem!

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