What's one plastic straw? the life of a sea turtle, the life of sea birds, and years on earth.
You may think: what is one plastic straw? It’s tiny, can this one little straw really cause so much pollution? What we aren’t thinking about is; that one stray is multiplied by thousands every day, and that one tiny straws takes hundreds of years, and then multiply all that by every day of the week, by every month, year, and century. You get the point. It isn’t just one straw it’s one million straws for hundreds of years. I bet it’s starting to ad up now isn’t it? But do not worry if you don’t want to ditch straws all together there are ways!
"Straws can take about 200 years to decompose"
It may seem like a tiny thing and it may not save the world but every small step we take today can create a huge impact tomorrow. So let me start of trying to convince you why you should ditch those plastic straws TODAY!
Quick list of why they are harmful
1. They harm wildlife
2. They expose us to harmful chemicals
3. They last years in landfills
1. How they harm wild life
Every year in the U.S. alone 500,000,000 straws are used every day. EVERYDAY IN ONE COUNTRY. The small little straws could fill up almost 50,000 large school buses in a year. I’m sure you have seen or heard about the famous turtle that really started all the rage about plastic straws. If you haven’t heard about the turtle here is a link to a YouTube video where you can watch it. Warning it may be too graphic for some. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw . Basically the straw was stuck in his nasal cavity and down his throat. Making it hard for him to breath, smell and eat. You can read more on the turtle hear at https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2015/10/27/the-turtle-that-became-the-anti-plastic-straw-poster-child. This poor turtle is just one small negative effect that is caused by plastic straws, fish and birds also swallow and choke on straws. This means that every day because of this one small straw an animal may pointlessly die. Approximately 1 million birds die every year from straws and about 100,000 marine animals.
Straws can take about 200 years to decompose. That is a long time especially if there is a volume of about 50,000 school buses a year. That is a lot of pollution from this one small piece of plastic. Even though plastic straws decompose, plastic straws do not biodegrade. Biodegrading is when an item can be fully broken down and fully digested by micro-organisms that turn in to organic matter for the earth. Plastic straws will degrade but nor fully. Meaning even though it becomes smaller, there is still the same amount of plastic particles on the earth. That means that straw will always be here, and worse than that as it decomposes it will release toxic chemicals into the earth’s soil, and water.
2. Toxic chemicals in straws
Plastic straws are made from toxic substances that over time leach out into the water, the earth and even into our bodies. Plastic straws are made from polypropylene plastic. Polypropylene is a resin that is made from stringing together molecules of propylene gas. When these gas molecules are stringed together they can form a solid substance. Straws also contain; colorants, plasticizers, antioxidants (which help reduce harmful interactions between the plastic and air), ultraviolet light fillers, and inert fillers. All these chemicals, while degrading on the earth, leach into our eco system. Some of these chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption and some cancers, along with behavioral issues in children. Although some of this research is iffy, it is still something to think about.
3. Lesson the Landfills and oceans
I’ve mentioned in section 1 and 2 briefly how long and how many straws are in our landfills and how long they plan on staying there. Is it really worth it to use a straw for 10minutes throw it away and have it sit in a landfill for 200 years? If you are like me you enjoy drinking your beverage through a straw, which is fine but let’s figure out how we can stop using those plastic ones. The first step we can take is to say no to plastic straws. When eating out say I don’t want a straw before your water or drink is served. When at a coffee shop do the same thing. “No thanks”, “I’d rather no straw”, “please, no straw for me.” Another thing you can do at home and while out is to purchase reusable straws. These come in glass, stainless steel, and bamboo. They are usually around a few dollars per straw when purchased in packs and will last a life time. Bamboo straws can last as long as stainless-steel and metal but need a little bit more care. But on the plus they are 100% biodegradable. Personally I love the stainless steel style, but choose which style you love. Use these straws when serving drinks at home, or bring a few along with you when you go out. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire your friends to jump on the no plastic band wagon!
4. For businesses
If you own a business especially one where drinks are served, there’s a few ways you can help here too. You can use paper straws instead of plastic and maybe put a cute sign in your window saying straws will be given on request only (A few samples below).
Together we CAN make a difference, one step at a time by 100 people is a HUGE LEAP. Do your part and help keep this earth happy and clean