Disposable plastic straws are very small in size, but they pose a massive threat to the planet. Why? It’s all in the numbers. We use and toss 500,000,000 disposable straws every single day here in the US. In the drive-through, at the coffee shop, during dinner out — that’s right, 182 BILLION straws a year. A gargantuan mountain of landfill trash added year in and year out with much of it ending up in the ocean. As plastic pollution is mounting, consumers that are wise to this problem are opting for alternatives. Mamavation has covered other important topics including Dangerous Disposable Dinnerware, Toxic Fast Food Packaging and Hormone-Disruption BPA in Receipts, so journey with us again as we take on one of the biggest environmental epidemics facing the earth right now–disposable straws.
3 Major Problems With Disposable Straws
Plastic Straws Aren’t Biodegradable
It’s bad enough that plastic disposable straws take 200 years to degrade, but in actuality, they never truly disappear and only break down into tiny microplastic pieces that remain on the earth for the rest of time.
Plastic Straws Are Petroleum-Based
The petrochemicals contained in plastic straws continuously leach into the ground after disposal, and contribute to the contamination of the surrounding ground and water, eventually reaching into our very own homes and communities.
Plastic Straws Contribute to Severe Marine Pollution
You may have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch made up of accumulated trash and debris — 90% of it plastic — that traveled along circulating ocean gyres ending up in one huge floating pile. Unfortunately, it’s not the only mass of trash in the ocean either. Disposable straws are always in the top 10 most commonly found marine debris, and sadly, it’s common to find fish, birds, and turtles with bellies full of plastic junk. In fact, 30% of turtles and 71% of seabirds have been found with plastics in their stomachs with 1,000,000 seabird deaths attributed to plastic ingestion. The degrading material from trash in the ocean releases chemicals that cause dangerous imbalances in the delicate ocean ecosystem interfering with marine life cycles, disturbing the natural cycle of coral reefs, and contributing to the creation of massive algae blooms that rob the water of oxygen, all of which negatively affect the continuation of the human life cycle.
3 Solutions to the Disposable Straw Epidemic
Get Involved in the Big Picture
Do something as simple as signing a petition to bring awareness of the problem to local and federal governments. There are 12 petitions on Change.org about plastic straws right now. You can also become more informed and active about plastic pollution by following projects like the Plastic Pollution Coalition and the documentary Straws that highlights the devastating environmental impact of disposable straws.
Personally Contact Your Local Businesses
Ask local restaurants, coffee shops, bars and diners to serve straws only upon request, and consider switching from plastic straws to reusable or compostable options. Then vote with your dollar and patronize companies who make positive changes.
Choose Reusable, Biodegradable or Compostable Straws Every Time
There are a lot of excellent alternatives to disposable plastic straws to choose from. The list below contains 6 categories of Mamavation-approved straw options.
Stainless Steel Straws
- Rainier Tumbler Straws
- Eco at Heart Extra Wide Smoothie Straws
- Green Heart Angled Straws
- Joyeco Rainbow Straws
- Striped Biodegradable Straws
- Green Paper Biodegradable Straws
- Bendy Paper Biodegradable Straws
- Natural White Biodegradable Straws
Vote With Your Dollar–How You Can Make a Difference
If you would like to see less plastic pollution, support brands that are providing products that solve that problem. When you vote today with your dollar, you are actually supporting the leaders you want tomorrow by giving them more resources to do amazing things.
For more tips on how to make your home safer, pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). This book will help you slay all those foul-mouthed chemical dragons in your home that are there without your consent. And for more updates, tips, and product investigations sign up for Mamavation’s FREE newsletter here.