As we bring our week-long look at sustainability to an end, I wanted to touch on a very big movement sweeping the nation and also the world: the extinction of plastic straws.
The use of plastic straws is detrimental to the environment, especially wildlife. The United States alone uses more than 180 billion straws every year, and because of their small size and flexibility, straws are likely to end up in the ocean. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generated 34.5 million tons of plastic waste in 2015 with only 9.1% of that waste being recycled. Plastic was invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt. If only Mr. Hyatt knew what his creation would leave behind…
To combat this pressing issue, many states and other countries around the world are banning the use of plastic straws and offering eco-friendly alternatives. Our friends at Domtar, a leader in the paper and pulp industry, provided some insightful information about the just-passed California Assembly Bill No. 1884: “This bill would prohibit a full-service restaurant, as specified, from providing single-use plastic straws, as defined, to consumers unless requested by the consumer.” The bill also states that, “[a]ny subsequent violation would be an infraction punishable by a fine of $25 for each day the full-service restaurant is in violation, but not to exceed an annual total of $300.” This bill does not put an end to plastic straws, it just doesn’t allow restaurants to offer them to customers unless requested.
There are alternatives to plastic straws, and using those can help make more environmentally harmful plastic straws go extinct for good. Below is a list of alternative options for plastic straws:
Made from renewable resources, paper straws are biodegradable, recyclable, and durable. One paper straw can last up to three hours in an ice-cold drink. They even come in a multitude of colors and sizes.
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants, which makes it very sustainable. Known in Asia as “wonder grass,” bamboo is a great alternative to plastic straws. Bambaw is a company that produces reusable bamboo straws. They are strong, durable, and dishwasher safe. Bambaw even throws in a cleaning tool to effectively deep clean your straws.
Glass straws are great for restaurants or people who want to showcase a classy fine-dining experience for their customers or guests. Glass straws are very malleable and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors and designs.
Papaya leaf stem straws
Papaya leaf stems make a perfect natural straw. If you ever find yourself in the tropics next to a papaya plant, simply pluck a leaf, trim the stem, rinse, and enjoy.
Metal straws such as stainless steel, aluminum, brass, or titanium can last a lifetime and have a sleek, elegant look. They often come equipped with a set of brushes for easy, effective cleaning.
Did you know that the drinking straw got its name from the tubular stem of the wheat plant? There is a movement by numerous companies trying to bring this simple, 100% compostable solution back to the market. They are organically grown like bamboo and come in variety of shapes and sizes.
You’re telling me I can eat my straw? Yes, edible straws are a great alternative to plastic straws. Some are made from pasta noodles, others are made from seaweed-based materials, you can even make homemade straws with common household items. If you’re like me, red licorice makes for a sweet and tasty straw.
Great for people who like to chew on their straws, silicone straws come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Dishwasher safe, and reusable, silicone also produces close to nine times less greenhouse gases than plastic straws.
The easiest way to make plastic straws go extinct? DON’T USE A STRAW.
While I only touched on plastic straws, we need to work toward the issue of keeping plastics out of our landfills and oceans. As with straws, you have the power to say no to single-use plastic and to choose to recycle the plastic items you do use. Thanks for reading our sustainability posts this week.
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