I feel like this #StopSucking campaign popped up out of nowhere. Suddenly, Starbucks committed to completely phasing out straws and a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon.
Why did it happen so fast? Probably because (for most) it's a convenient switch. And once the bandwagon was off, people began to believe that by just banning straws we could save the world. Plastic is bad, so if we ban one plastic product, problem solved, right?
Let's look at it from both sides.
First, the pros
1. 175 million plastic straws are used every day.
That must be a lot of plastic for our oceans.
2. Straws are hard to recycle because of their size, so most end up in landfills or oceans.
If you haven't seen that video of the turtle having a straw pulled out of it's nostril, where have you been?
3. We don't really need straws.
You can literally just not use one. Plus, we already have a growing market for multi-use and biodegradable straws for people who like using them.
4. We can change the shape of lids.
This also eliminated the need for straws, which Starbucks has already started doing in some places.
1. Some people actually do need straws.
And a sensitivity to certain textures means reusable metal or bamboo straws might not be an option.
2. Plastic straws only account for 0.02% of plastic pollution.
It may be a lot of straws, but their small size and weight don't make as much of a difference as other plastic products.
3. Starbuck's new lids require more plastic than using straws.
4. Straws aren't that much of a threat to marine life.
Compared to plastic bags, balloons, fishing gear, or microplastics, straws aren't a huge concern to experts.
Banning straws won't have the impact that we think it will. It doesn't hurt for you to deny them in your Starbz, but this ban is not inclusive to some people's needs. This ban is not going to do much for the amount of plastic we dump into our oceans, but it might jump start some more awareness about waste.
Reducing the number of straws we use is just the start. Other types of plastic that we use every day are more concerning than straws. Pounds of plastic bags are found in the stomachs of dead marine life. Microplastics leach chemicals into the water and into the bodies of fish we eat.
There is a lot more we need to do to clean our oceans and empty landfills. Don't get complacent with just getting rid of one unnecessary item. Straws are just a stepping stone into solving a much larger problem.