Plastic straws are readily available in every next fast food joint you go to or even some restaurants. These single-use plastic straws total up to somewhere between 63 to 142 billion per year only by the United States. We can estimate the global usage of straws considering the figure here and easily come to the conclusion that straws are substantially harmful to the environment. They constitute about 4% of the plastic waste total; when considered per use or per piece that is dumped into sewage grounds or the ocean.
The increase in usage of single-use plastic straws has tremendously affected the oceans and marine life. It has negatively impacted the lives of oceanic animals, leading to a ban in several countries. Apart from the oceans, we mustn’t forget that these plastics are actually pollutants and are unable to decompose for thousands of years, if at all.
Subsequently, this dumping puts to death about 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine creatures every year, which is clearly not a healthy estimate. There are campaigns running for the purpose, and there is absolutely a strong reason. With these numbers, we are rapidly losing time to protect ourselves and marine life from reviving the ecosystem. People are negligent in their plastic use, but with plastic straws, even big MNCs are to blame.
How are plastic straws harmful?
Plastic straws account for a large part of the plastic waste dumped into the environment. They cannot be reused for hygiene purposes, and they cannot be recycled since they are already a recycled plastic product. People are ignorant of the fact that single-use plastic straws are prime constituents of the plastic trash that they produce on a daily basis. We are beyond a point where we can get the environment rid of the already lying wastes that we have contributed to.
However, what we can do is reduce the use and prevent the status quo from getting worse. The biggest reason to do so is that the waste increases as per usage. Each straw adds up to the pile every time you choose to drink a soft drink or shake through a plastic straw. Although the total waste straw pile does not weigh too much, it has severe implications for turtles who are getting choked by plastic straws and dying. The plastic straws can easily be replaced with more eco-friendly material straws like metal straws or bamboo straws, and though expensive, these have helped in eliminating the need for this product altogether. For food joints that use straws in bulk, paper straws are a cheaper option though they sulk after a short period of time, so not a lot of customers are pleased by the idea.
Why ban plastic straws?
A lot of countries have policies to discourage plastic straws’ usage. In some cities, there is even a complete ban on single-use plastic straws in order to reduce plastic consumption on their end. Many food joints, MNCs, and airplane food services have started doing away with all kinds of plastics used, but especially straws so as to avoid the mass consumption that they unwillingly promoted on their end. Letting go of so much plastic waste and letting better alternatives take over entails so many benefits:
- It is nudging plastic producing companies about the toxicity present in their products and discouraging the use thereof. Even one product’s sale going down will affect their earning primarily.
- Everyone needs a reminder that states the hazards of their wreckless usage, considering the current scenario vis-a-vis plastic products. The damage done can’t be undone, but further damage can be avoided.
- A domino effect is materializing after the ban of plastic straws where single-use polythene is the next in order. A lot of countries are letting go of polythene as well to reduce plastic consumption, affecting a huge part of plastic waste.
In conclusion, we can say that it is mostly the negligence of people that affects the environment and the dire consequences of plastic consumption and waste. With better effective ways of plastic disposal, we also need to reduce, if not completely ban the use of single-use plastic straws, among other plastic products. Conscious use of plastic will make the environment more sustainable, and we are already on edge right now.
The planet is dying with its marine life and sea birds, and the air is constantly polluted with the remains of our privilege and comfort. This residual is challenging to overcome, but not changing the current scenario is not an option, so whatever little we can try, we should. Simply using better alternatives to plastics can help the environment without hampering the ease it provides with simply better investment.