This is one item I’m sure each of us has used at one time or another. As the war on plastics wages on, straws have become the focus of attention. The Coral Keepers created the national day, a group of eighth grade students at Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, Michigan, in 2017 as a part of their entry into the Lexus Eco Challenge. This environmental competition challenges students to solve big environmental problems in their community.
The goal of the national day is simple. Throughout the day, everyone is encouraged to either use a renewable alternative to plastic straws when consuming beverages or embrace the true spirit and go completely straw-less. Plastic straws have become the new plastic bags the focus of laws and mandates to regulate and ultimately eliminate or significantly reduce their use.
Why are plastic straws being eliminated?
Well, for most parts, we don’t need them. For most able-bodied people, straws are simply a convenience, not a necessity. Straws are part of what we call single-use plastics, meaning they can only be used once before they are thrown away. They are major polluters of our planet. About 14 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans yearly, The International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports.
According to research from the recycling nonprofit Eco-Cycle, the U.S. uses more than 500 million plastic drinking straws daily, an average of 1.6 straws per person per day. Because of their size and shape, these straws are practically impossible to recycle effectively, meaning tons of them to find their way to the ocean each year, where they pose a danger of being eaten by sea turtles, albatross and fish.
With this in mind, what are good alternatives for people who cannot give up plastics as they take beverages? We look at some Eco-friendly alternatives that can fulfill your straw needs while being environmentally friendly.
- GLASS- Glass straws are easily one of the best options for adults at home. Unlike many reusable alternatives, glass straws have next to no texture, meaning you aren’t getting any plastic-y feeling while drinking your beverage of choice. They can easily handle cool and hot drinks, are easy to clean and are the only transparent straw option. Easily the most visually attractive of the bunch, glass straws add a certain air of elegance to any drink, making them an easy pairing for date night or my time.
- SILICONE- The best thing about silicone straws is that they are flexible. They have a rubbery structure, meaning you can bite down on them, bend them, stuff them in a pocket, or pack them in a lunchbox with no problem. The silicone texture is similar to that of plastic, and like plastic, they come in tons of fun colors, making them an excellent option for kids. And, unlike glass and metal, there is little chance of hurting your teeth with an accidental bite down on a straw made of silicone.
- BAMBOO- The best straw for the environment. If sustainability is your gold star, a bamboo straw is an obvious choice. Made from fast-growing bamboo plants, bamboo straws look (and sometimes taste) a little bit like a bamboo shoot. Bamboo straws strike a happy medium between metal's hardness and glass's elegance. They do not last years and years like metal or glass, but that is by design: They naturally biodegrade, meaning if they end up in the garbage, they won't stay there nearly as long as metal or glass. If you are the type to misplace or break straws often, bamboo is the way to go.
Folks, consider carrying an Eco-friendly cup or glass next time you go to your favorite drive-through; when you get your drink, pour it in and avoid using plastic straws. This is a challenge to all of us to start or continue being more environmentally responsible. Just #SkipTheStraw