Rea­sons why we should stop us­ing plas­tic straws

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE next time you buy a soda in a to-go cup, you might be sur­prised to find your straw is made of pa­per. That’s be­cause more and more restau­rants are try­ing to stop us­ing plas­tic straws, and some cities are even ban­ning them.

It’s ac­tu­ally the small size of straws that makes them bad for the en­vi­ron­ment.

First, it takes en­ergy and re­sources to make any ob­ject, which means to make plas­tic, we must cre­ate pol­lu­tion and sac­ri­fice dwin­dling re­sources, such as wa­ter and fos­sil fu­els. Many items made out of thin plas­tic, such as straws and gro­cery bags, are meant to be used once. In most cases, it’s bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment to make and buy prod­ucts that last a long time.

Most plas­tics don’t de­com­pose or biode­grade when we toss them. Plas­tics can stay in land­fills for hun­dreds of years. And plas­tic in the ocean floats around as small pieces

(called mi­croplas­tics) that can poi­son an­i­mals and hurt the en­vi­ron­ment.

Hu­mans have cre­ated about 9.1 bil­lion tons of plas­tic since in­vent­ing the ma­te­rial and we don’t re­cy­cle most of it. Straws prob­a­bly make up a small per­cent­age of our trash world­wide. But they’ve re­cently got­ten a lot of at­ten­tion be­cause of how dif­fi­cult they are to re­cy­cle.

Re­cy­cling is very im­por­tant: It keeps many of our plas­tic ob­jects from spend­ing hun­dreds of years caus­ing trou­ble. Un­for­tu­nately, straws al­ways end up in a land­fill.

“Plas­tic straws and other items smaller than two by two inches, such as plas­tic uten­sils, fall through the ma­chin­ery that sorts our re­cy­cling,” says Jonathan Kuhl of the Washington DC Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works.

“The best way to keep plas­tic straws out of land­fills is not to use them – whether you’re at home or in a restau­rant,” Kuhl says. “If you’d like to use a straw, there are pa­per and other non­plas­tic al­ter­na­tives.”

Some people need plas­tic straws to drink due to phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions, so un­til we find an al­ter­na­tive that works for ev­ery­one, we can’t get rid of them en­tirely.

Pa­per straws will prob­a­bly crop up at many stores and restau­rants, but you can also try re­us­able straws made of bam­boo, me­tal and glass.

Some com­pa­nies even make straws out of pasta. You can try at home with a hol­low noo­dle such as bu­ca­tini. Just don’t use it for a hot bev­er­age, or you’re go­ing to end up cook­ing a very strange soup! – Washington Post

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