Hot Eco Enemy: Plastic Straws

 

You may have caught wind of this, already. Various establishments which serve drinks are hopping on board the “no plastic straw” train. This is a good thing, Dallas, and I encourage you to get behind this movement!

In February 2018, National Geographic reported that Americans use 500 million straws – every day. That’s just in America, guys. And every one of those straws is still somewhere on this planet.

Like take-away plastic cups, utensils, and single-use water bottles, plastic straws are used very briefly then tossed into the garbage. Technically, they are recyclable but are the same type of plastic as disposable plastic water bottle tops and must be turned in to a special recycling center (which approximately no people or businesses take the trouble and expense to do). Instead, they go in the trash or incorrectly into the recycling bin. A city recycling sorting center must remove straws from other plastic items in order to recycle the stuff which is recyclable.

Plastic straws are very lightweight so may blow out of trash and end up littering or worse – in marine life stomachs.

Common reasons for needing straws are “sensitive teeth” and “lipstick preservation.” So, if you really do need a straw, the alternatives are a reusable or paper.

Personally, I keep a cache of reusable plastic cups and straws in my car for when I grab juices or iced coffees. Sometimes, if I forget to bring one of my reusables into the coffee or juice shop and my vehicle isn’t super close, I’ll take the (actually recyclable) plastic cup but NOT pick up a non-recyclable straw – instead, using my reusable straw once back in my car.

It seems a little odd to carry your own reusable straw into a restaurant but I suppose that is an option.

Perhaps we’ll get to where it’s common practice for restaurants and bars to have reusable metal or plastic straws which are treated like a utensil. Picked up at the end of a customer’s meal with glass glasses, ceramic plates and metal eating utensils then washed.

In the meantime, lots of spots are switching to paper or “Straws by request only.”

A little thing literally but figuratively huge in the eco-verse. Will you be part of the crowd making a difference?