Americans use 500 million straws every day. That’s enough to fill more than 120 school buses. You use straws all of the time. Whenever you go to a restaurant, the waiter brings you a straw with your drink.
This huge number of straws poses a problem for the environment. Straws are one of the most commonly waste items in the ocean. Many marine animals end up dead because of choking on plastic. The mortality rate can be as high as 50%. Plastic straws also take a long time to degrade, which means they stay in the environment for years.
There’s a recent movement to ban plastic straws in restaurants to help the environment. Single use plastic items are a waste of plastic and often end up in landfills or in the ocean. Most straws are also made of a material that isn’t accepted in many recycling facilities. They’re also very lightweight, which means they often don’t make it through the mechanical sorter that processes different types of recyclable goods.
Many cities and countries are enacting a ban on plastic straws and utensils to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Some companies are switching to paper straws, while others are getting rid of them altogether.
However, there are thousands of people who need straws to drink. Those who are disabled and can’t put a cup up to their face rely on straws to get the hydration they need.
This motion requires a lot of complex maneuvers that those who struggle with muscular disorders, dementia, and nerve issues can’t do.
Trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use doesn’t have to mean ditching straws completely. Protecting the environment doesn’t have to mean resorting to such drastic measures as completely banning straws from being used.
There are a huge number of options that can help reduce the amount of disposable straws while still allowing those who need them to have access to them.
Have Straws on Hand but Only Provide Them to Those Who Ask
Those with disabilities need to be able to use straws when they go out. Many restaurants can still facilitate accessibility by providing straws to those who ask.
Reusable straws are great for people who need them at home. But when those with disabilities go out to eat, it’s difficult to just carry a straw around. Completely banning straws will prevent those who need them from being able to drink while they are having a meal.
Provide Reusable Straws
There are many types of reusable straws out there in the world. From metal straws to compostable straws, plastic straws don’t have to be the only option.
Using glass straws is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes into the environment while still allowing those who need straws to drink their fluids. Glass straws are easy to clean and keep sanitary, so you don’t have to worry about contamination.
While the effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment is appreciated, eliminating single use plastic straws isn’t enough. However, the wide spread cultural movement to improve the planet we live on is a great start and will hopefully lead to more expansive methods to reduce our overall amount of waste.