Plastic Straws: World’s Worst Pollutant?
Who doesn’t remember blowing bubbles in their milk as a kid? From twisty straws to those that came with your lunchroom juice box; straws have played a role in many people’s lives. However, the fact is that plastic straws are a major problem for our environment, especially for the oceans and marine life.
Every single day in the U.S., 500 million straws are used and thrown away. That’s enough straw waste to fill Yankee Stadium more than nine times in a year, fill 46,400 large school busses per year, or wrap around the earth 2.5 times! In the UK alone, on average 3.5 million McDonald’s customers per day buy a drink with a straw!
So, you might think, surely these straws are being recycled, right? Surely they are not all going into landfills, oceans, and waterways. However, sadly, you’d be wrong. Plastics are harming our oceans and waterways in alarming ways. Nearly 90% of all marine debris are plastic-made items. Plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it NEVER goes away. Instead, it “photodegrades,” breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, getting ingested by marine life, and making its way into our food chain. Every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some form in our environment.
Why are plastics so harmful? “Essentially, plastics are human-made, synthetic polymers made from long chains of carbon and other elements. Through a process called cracking, crude oil and natural gases are converted to hydrocarbon monomers like ethylene, propylene, styrene, vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol, and so on,” according to the American Chemistry Council. In a nutshell, a whole lot of non-natural, bad for the environment stuff.
This “stuff” never goes away. Even the tiny percentage that may actually be recycled can only do so once, then on to the landfill. It stays there – forever – or heads off to the oceans, or gets burned and floats around in the air. It has been found in our food, our blood and even in mother’s breast milk! Once a plastic straw finds its way to the ocean and waterways, it does innumerable damage.
You may have seen this YouTube video of the sea turtle with a straw stuck in his nose. (Video Below) Researchers working in Costa Rica removed a 4-inch plastic straw fully embedded in the nostril of the turtle. In another instance, a turtle was found with a plastic can holder around her shell. Based on how her shell has grown and formed around it, the Missouri Department of Conservation estimates that the piece of garbage had been around the turtle’s shell for about four years. How painful that must have been!
Plastic straws are so harmful that Disney doesn’t even allow any in the Animal Kingdom section of the park. The park still allows plastic straws in all other areas, but this is a great start in an international effort to educate the public on just how irresponsible plastic straw use is. It makes it clear to all generations that there is a connection between wildlife and our disposable lifestyle. Not only are straws not permitted, but also plastic lids and balloons are banned. These things are absolutely detrimental when introduced to a natural habitat.
So, what can you do to help eliminate this enormous problem?
Refuse! Reuse! Recycle.
REFUSE: Just say “no”! Say “no” when offered a plastic straw at a restaurant. Say “no” when tempted to buy a pack of plastic straws for your house. Say “no” to contributing to this sad state of our environment. To say “No Straw Please” in Thai is “Mai Aw Lord”
REUSE: Use reusable straws such as those made of stainless steel or glass. These are washable and can be used over and over again, keeping the trash out of the environment in the first place. You can buy Metal CBBC Straws from us, if your interested in buying metal straws for your business or home you can contact us at Info@CleanTheBeachBootCamp.com there only 40 baht each & every 5 you buy comes with special straw cleaner.
RECYCLE: Paper is a fabulous alternative for a straw that is to be thrown away. They are biodegradable and compostable, non-toxic, and can be made to be very safe and strong. Aardvark Straws makes the only USA-made FDA-approved, eco-friendly paper straws. Check them out! (http://www.aardvarkstraws.com)
There are many websites you can check out for more information on this topic and what can be done to address the issue of reducing not only plastic straws, but all plastics in general, to stop the destruction of our waterways, oceans and marine life.
Here is a short list to help you along your journey:
- Simply Straws: https://simplystraws.com
- The Last Plastic Straw: http://thelastplasticstraw.org/
- Straw Wars: http://strawwars.org/
- EcoWatch: http://ecowatch.com
Next time you are faced with the option of using a plastic straw, please think twice, and think about the turtles and other marine life that need our protection. Together, WE can make a cleaner beach and a better world!