Straws Really Suck For The Environment

As more and more coverage of single-use plastics and their impact on the ocean continues to come out, one if the most dangerous but previously overlooked products is the humble straw. In the USA alone we use 500 million straws every day. That is enough straws to wrap around the earth 2.5 times every single day, and if we expand that out to a year we will wrap the earth 912.5 times. That is 22.7 million miles of straws used each year just by the USA.Just like plastic bottles, straws do not biodegrade, they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces making them increasingly more dangerous to birds and marine life. In fact, plastic kills one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals a year. While that is not all from straws, straws are a major contributor. According to the Ocean Conservancy straws were the seventh most collected item on 2017’s international ocean clean-up day, and the 11th most found item of trash in the ocean overall. A major reason that so many straws end up in the ocean and landfills is that they are hard to recycle.Straws are generally made of #5 plastic (polypropylene), and while #5 plastic is recyclable it is not accepted by 1/3 of curbside pickup programs. Most cities do not accept them simply because they do not have the right equipment to break them down because the most common plastics to be recycled are #1 and #2 which consist of water bottles (but not the caps which are generally #5), food containers, milk containers, oil containers, and detergent containers to name a few.It is not all bad news though, there are a couple companies trying to fight the flow of straws into oceans and landfills. The biggest effort is by Preserve. Preserve is a company that makes 100% recycled household products and they started a campaign to get more #5 plastics called gimme 5 (great name). Through this campaign, we can save up our straws, yogurt containers, and other #5 plastics and drop them off at one of their kiosks or mail them to the company. This is a great option because we don’t even have to leave our house if we don’t want to. We just pack them up and send them off and you can have the piece of mind that 100% of our #5 plastic will get reused. The other company is not trying to recycle straws but cut back on their usage. Starbucks announced today that they are going to be strawless by 2020. The company plans to switch out all their strawed cups with sippy cups. They say that the switch will eliminate one billion straws a year which is a pretty good start in decreasing straw consumption. Plus, my hope is that with this announcement other companies will follow suit.  Not to mention all the people who drink Starbucks on a regular basis that will become aware of the issue.Sources: 1Million Women, Ocean Conservative, Earth911, Sierra Club

1 thought on “Straws Really Suck For The Environment

  1. Thanks for the info on #5 plastic and Gimme 5! I’ll look into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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