By Brianna Williams—News Editor
It is an easy way to help the environment. The first and foremost reason why reusable straws are much better than the plastic, disposable ones you’ll find at restaurants (or really anywhere you can purchase a drink) is that reusable straws are such a simple way to help the environment. I do not think anyone actually wants to attribute to global warming and trash our earth, but it has become so second-nature to participate in many things that do just that. I understand that going green is not always the easiest or most affordable decision in some cases, but changing that little plastic straw can be your small act to make a big difference.
Disposable straws waste plastic. While they’re extremely small, the number of disposable straws humans use on a day to day basis—170-500 million per day—wastes a LOT of plastic. Though some may say you can recycle your plastic straws, I’m not sure how realistic it is that many people will take the straw out of their cup and find a recycling bin every time they need to dispose of it. To be wasting that much plastic on a tool used for a drink you spend maybe an hour or two sipping on is pretty ridiculous, especially when there are alternatives.
Save the sea turtles! Straws often end up in our oceans; in fact, straws have been in the top ten list of marine debris for awhile. These straws can become unhealthy food for our marine life, or even end up in the noses of sea turtles. If you have seen any photos or videos of how these straws affect the animals of our oceans, that alone should convince you that using reusable straws is the better choice.
Disposable straws are ineffective. In all honesty, plastic disposable straws are not that great. I cannot count the number of times my straw has gotten a hole in it, folded on itself, or become unusable due to biting the top. Not only do plastic straws harm marine life and waste plastic, but they’re also flimsy, weak, and fairly ineffective.
Plastic does not biodegrade. As I mentioned earlier, most straws end up in our oceans, which is problematic for various reasons. One of these reasons is that plastic does not biodegrade, which means that it can remain in the ocean for up to thousands of years. The plastic will continually break down into smaller and smaller pieces that are more readily available for marine life to consume.
Plastic straws contain BPA. BPA, a harmful chemical that can lead to numerous reproductive disorders, diabetes, and heart disease, is found in the disposable plastic straws we so often use. So not only are these straws harmful to marine life and the environment, but to us as well! If you are not going to stop using disposable straws for the earth, at least do it for your own health.
The restaurants are doing it. Several restaurants—Starbucks being a big one—are doing their part in helping the effort to move away from plastic straws. While some places like Starbucks, who says they will completely eliminate their use of plastic straws by 2020, will no longer offer these straws, others will hold off on providing a straw unless specifically requested. If anything, you might as well get a reusable straw to be able to drink your iced coffee.
There are numerous alternatives. Even though plastic straws are bad for you, animals, and the planet, I get it—how are you supposed to simply stop using them when you have become so used to it? Fortunately, there are tons of alternatives to plastic, disposable straws; glass, bamboo, stainless steel, and other metal straws are all readily available online and even in certain brick-and-mortar stores for purchase. Not only are these alternatives easy to find, but they are also fairly cheap (a set of 8 straws with 2 straw cleaners is only $7.99 on Amazon).
Plastic straws are easy to use. As I said before, plastic straws are pretty flimsy and weak, especially for drinks like smoothies and milkshakes. The benefit of reusable straws is that they won’t break, acquire holes, or tear like plastic ones. They are also super easy to clean in the dishwasher or with the cleaner that most straw sets come with. If you keep one in your car, backpack, briefcase, purse, at home, and anywhere else you could find a need for one, pulling a reusable straw out to use is just as easy as grabbing a plastic one from wherever you are.
Plastic straws are fun to use, too! Finally, reusable straws are honestly just fun to use. It feels cool to have your own set of straws wherever you go, and depending on the type you get, they can look pretty awesome, too. They have different colors, shapes, and sizes of reusable straws available to make you feel like you’re a kid drinking from a bendy straw again. Now, you can help the planet a little bit and look cool doing it!