Straws are genius. I use one almost every time that I drink something out of the house. They make drinking easier, faster, and let's be honest, more fun. But they also have some consequences that last far beyond your last slurp.
Officially invented in 1888, straws started as paper but have obviously transformed into nearly all plastic. The problem with this transformation is that plastic never really breaks down or biodegrades completely. Unlike the things we find in nature, plastic does not get broken down by bacteria after it is disposed by us. These straws are then left to sit in landfills or worse, float through the ocean. Using something just one time that will never go away seems pretty wasteful to me.
Beyond the waste that single-use plastic straws pose, they also wreak endless havoc on the environment. Despite the common belief that throwing your plastic into the blue bin instead of the regular trash can means it is magically recycled, straws often avoid the recycling process. Too light or too thin to complete the recycling, straws often fall through the cracks and end up along with the rest of our trash in landfills.
Of course we already know the unfortunate truth about landfills filled with our trash. Not only are they eye sores, but they are filled with plastic amongst endless pieces of garbage that will sit and rot with no use.
Where our trash really ends up.https://goo.gl/images/JbKqHg
In a sad way, a landfill would be the better option for a straw's last destination. Instead, many straws end up in the ocean. Not only do they float through the waves, but they also enter the world of fish, turtles, and other marine life. This problem was most notably highlighted a few years ago when a video went viral showing a straw being pulled out of the nose of a sea turtle. Even if straws don't physically harm animals in the ocean in their original form, they will often be consumed later on down the road as they break into smaller pieces. This consumption is often deadly for animals. Straws floating through the ocean is not natural. And this problem cannot be treated as so.
Washed up plastic on a beach.https://goo.gl/images/KP2vZZ
According to recent studies, if our habits do not change for the better there will be more straws than fish in the ocean by 2050. That is unacceptable... Especially for two seemingly unrelated things.
Our desire to drink smoothies, frappuccinos, and sodas at restaurants faster and with more ease should not trump the lives of animals in our oceans. Ecosystems, lives, and our environment's future are all threatened by these plastic tubes we use every single day.
So, yes. You should stop sucking from straws. The future depends on it. Luckily, there are paper, steel, and reusable plastic straws out there to replace single-use straws and feed our addiction. Don't forget to tell your server to cut the straw out at your next dinner, too.
So skip the straw next time and sip the drink. It's your simplest and most effective way to start saving the environment. One straw at a time.