Why we should all say no to plastic straws

By Maia Rice

When you think of plastic straws, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Starbucks? McDonald’s?

The first thing that comes to my mind is how plastic straws are destroying our environment. Straws are small and lightweight, yet they are damaging our oceans and hurting animals. Many are not aware that plastic straws are harmful and even though they are made of plastic, they cannot be recycled. It turns out that plastic straws are not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally and changed into non-toxic materials. Plastic straws break down to very small particles that cannot be reused, and are showing up in our waters, dumpsters and environment.

Plastic is made to be durable and it takes most plastics about 500 years to break down. Plastic attracts bacteria, chemicals and other harmful toxins. The plastic releases the harmful chemicals into the ground, air, and water making it unsafe to animals, plants, people and the overall environment. The Sea Turtle Conservancy says that “100 million marine animals die each year from ocean debris and more than half of the worlds Sea Turtles have ingested plastic”. In August 2015, a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nostril went viral. The poor turtle was suffering and the plastic straw had to be removed with pliers by scientist. Since that video hit the internet and went viral, there has been a movement to ban plastic straws.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used per day. You are probably thinking, “What can I do?” There are alternatives such as using straws that are recyclable or even investing in a durable, long-lasting straw that can be used over and over.  It is the same concept how many of us have started using recyclable bags instead of the cheap, plastic ones that many stores use to pack your groceries. 

The time is now to take care of our planet.  We do this by choosing to use products that are reusable. It is not worth sacrificing our environment. Just as you respect yourself and your well-being, then our Earth should be respected and preserved as well. 

The trend has started to take off and we just need to jump on the bandwagon, and soon many others will follow.  Places that have already banned plastic straws are the zoos and many beaches in the United States such as ones in California, Florida and New Jersey.  Even large companies are in agreement to reduce the use of plastic and are phasing out the use of plastic straws in their businesses. A few of the companies are: Starbucks, Disney, American Airlines, SeaWorld and Royal Caribbean. 

Eco-friendly is the trend if we want there to be an Earth in our children’s future. If everyone does their part, we can slowly decrease our plastic single-use and come up with new ways to recycle.  Let your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors witness your commitment to recycle and soon everyone in your circle will learn to be environmentally friendly.  This is an action that will benefit all of us.  Will you do your part?

Here is a list of websites where you can buy alternative straws:

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