3 reasons plastic straws suck and 3 ways to stop sucking plastic

3 reasons plastic straws suck, 3 ways to stop sucking plastic!

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They may seem like a small, fun addition to your drink but there’s a growing movement waking up to the fact that plastic straws suck!

It’s estimated in the US alone, 500 million straws are used every day – that’s enough straws to wrap around the earth’s circumference 2.5 times!

Not only is it an extremely wasteful to manufacture and distribute such vast volumes of plastic designed to be used for just a matter of minutes, but due to their lightweight nature large numbers of straws inevitably end up in the sea too.

Whether you’re an individual who wants to make a difference, or you run a business and want to cut your plastic footprint – saying NO to plastic straws is one of the quickest and easiest ways you can take action to tackle ocean plastic.

Here’s 3 reasons WHY to say no to plastic straws and WHAT you can use instead…

3 reasons plastic straws suck

1. They harm marine wildlife & ecosystems

Plastic straws in the oceans are bad news for marine wildlife. Not only do they get stuck up turtles’ noses causing immense levels of pain and distress, they’re also mistaken for food by seabirds and fed to their chicks, or sucked up by fish and marine mammals when they’re feeding.

Plastic in the ocean also absorbs any other pollutants present in the water, intensifying its toxicity for the animals who eat it, including those in our food chain.

2. They expose us to unhealthy toxic chemicals

Using a plastic straw is not the healthiest way to sip your drink. A recent study has revealed most commercially available plastics leached synthetic estrogens, and some BPA-free products actually released estrogenic chemicals that were more potent than BPA.

Plastic contains a range of toxic chemicals that leach into our food and drink that have been linked to health issues ranging from hormone disruption to cancer.

The risks are particularly high for children – even exposure to tiny amounts of endocrine disrupting chemicals, (EDC’s) could cause neurological damage and behavioural issues, such as autism, ADHD and lower IQ, as well as fertility issues, obesity and diabetes.

3. Used for minutes, here for centuries, piling up daily

You might be shocked to know that 50% of plastic manufactured globally today is single-use plastic. The widespread adoption of a ‘convenience lifestyle’ where the average person discards several pieces of disposable plastic every day (such as packaging, serve-ware and straws) is playing a huge part in the worsening ocean plastic crisis.

Like most single-use plastic, straws are not able to be efficiently recycled due to their low value and the difficulty in capturing them in a closed-loop system.

The only way to turn off the flow of single-use plastic accumulating every day in our oceans, and destined to remain there for centuries, is to stop using it.

“If we continue business as usual, by 2050 there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean (by weight)” – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

plastic straw on a beach

3 ways to stop sucking plastic

1. Skip the straw and sip your drink

It’s not hard to imagine enjoying a drink without the need for a straw. In fact, we think even the most elaborate cocktails, mocktails or smoothies look more appealing artfully adorned with fruit and herbs instead of with plastic straws.

Many people get annoyed having plastic straws automatically put in their drinks. If you work in hospitality, why not try serving drinks without straws, or at least waiting for customers to request them (and then see number 3).

And if you’re ordering the drinks, try to remember to say ‘no straw please’ every time.

2. Switch to reusable steel, glass or bamboo straws

If you really do prefer to use a straw, the most eco-friendly options are reusable straws such as stainless steel, glass or bamboo.

If you run a hospitality business, consider a deposit system where you charge extra for drinks served with reusable straws to ensure they are returned to you (for the deposit refund) before the customer leaves your premises. You could also put your branding on steel straws for eco-friendly merchandise.

3. Use paper straws instead*

Finally, if disposable straws are the only solution for your situation, try to have them out of sight so you don’t use them in every drink (because it is better to reduce single-use items wherever possible).

Naturally biodegradable paper straws (coated in natural beeswax) are the best disposable straw solution.

* Despite their claims to be eco-friendly, compostable plastic straws, or biodegradable plastic straws do not break down safely in ocean conditions. They only work if there is a ‘closed capture system’ that ensures they reach appropriate high-heat municipal composting facilities. In the real world, this rarely happens. Whether they’re littered or landfilled, the sheer quantity of straws used means that many blow into rivers or onto beaches, and make their way into the sea where they are just as harmful to marine wildlife as normal plastic straws, and take just as long to break down.

INDIVIDUALS – TAKE ACTION

BUSINESSES – TAKE ACTION

  • Please consider skipping straws altogether.
  • Alternatively, you could offer reusable straws (with a deposit to ensure return).
  • Or have a stock of disposable paper straws under your counter for if customers request them. We advocate only giving disposable paper straws on request, and choosing naturally biodegradable paper straws coated in beeswax that will be harmless if they end up in the oceans.
  • Support a straw ban in your local community (such as The Final Straw Cornwall or Strawless in Seattle). Or set up your own!
  • Find out more about plastic straws and what you can do to help the movement by visiting The Last Plastic Straw website.
  • Discover more ways your business can use less plastic.

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