Suppose you’ve been paying close attention to efforts regarding environmental conservation over the past several years. In that case, you may remember the movement surrounding the need to replace plastic drinking straws with sustainable, biodegradable alternatives that won’t end up adding to landfills or littering the world’s coastlines. This article intends to explore the importance of these efforts further while providing you with a list of sustainable straw alternatives that you and your family can repeatedly use without adding a single straw more to the problem. Please continue reading to discover more about these products. And if you find you’d like to learn even more about the impact that single-use products can have on the planet and what you can do to help keep the environment healthy, please consider reading through the range of expertly written articles provided by PlantSwitch today.
A Daily Waste Product Piling Up Around the Globe
According to National Park Service data, Americans use approximately 500 million drinking straws every day- enough to fill 125 school busses every 24 hours and 46,000 school busses every year! As if that weren’t enough, additional data provided by Australian scientists in a plastic pollution article on Phys.org revealed that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws currently littering American coastlines, with an estimated range of 427 million to 8.3 billion more straws suspected to be present along coastlines throughout the rest of the world. Even though straws weigh so little when compared to other forms of plastic pollution, the billions of straws ending up in the environment add up to nearly 2,000 tons of plastic waste that are having severe impacts on the health of the planet and the countless creatures that call it home.
A Hazzard to Human Health
While plastic straws are generally talked about in terms of the threat they present to marine life (which will be explored more in the section below), they have also been shown to create a range of human health problems. This is due to the polypropylene and bisphenol A (BPA) they contain, which can contaminate the liquids we take in, increasing rates of both cancer and obesity.
A Major Threat to Marine Life
The metric tons worth of plastic straws that end up in landfills are horrible enough for the environment, but those that end up in the ocean pose an even more visible threat to our fellow creatures. Many marine animals mistake plastic straws for food and consume them, resulting in the straws either choking them or getting stuck in their digestive tract. Over the past several years, a massive range of different ocean species has been found with huge amounts of single-use plastic straws in their stomachs, including sea birds, turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, and more. In 2015, one particular turtle became the new poster child for the anti-plastic straw movement when he was found with a straw stuck far up into his nasal cavity, which had to be painfully removed by volunteers over several minutes.
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What Are The Best Eco-Friendly Alternatives?
More and more single-use plastic straws are being thrown out and added to the environment every day. It’s our responsibility to start utilizing sustainable alternatives to help protect the planet from plastic’s harmful impacts. Thankfully, there is a wide range of multi-use and biodegradable straw types that have come onto the market in recent decades, making it easier than ever to do your part in stopping the use of disposable plastic straws. Below is a selection of effective and popular alternative products that people have begun to utilize in their homes as part of their efforts to help protect the natural world. Please consider investing in a few of them for yourself to combat the plastic pollution threat today!
PlantSwitch has provided us with a breakthrough in our efforts to step away from plastic straws by developing sustainable, single-use, biodegradable straws that can break down by over 90% in as little as 100 days after being discarded into a landfill. Agave straws have been specially designed to feel like plastic but quickly degrade like plant-based materials. They are FDA approved, gluten-free, vegan, made from upcycled agave waste, and produce no problematic microplastic as part of their decomposition process, making them the ultimate single-use plastic straw replacement.
Paper straws are yet another environmentally sustainable alternative to plastic straws. They can be utilized in various ways, from cocktail drinks and coffees to cake pops and more. Paper straws are known to completely decompose in only 45-90 days after disposal, making them highly environmentally friendly.
The third environmentally sustainable straw alternative on our list is bamboo straws. Bamboo is both quick and easy to grow, so with careful regulation and harvesting processes, bamboo straws could become a great commonplace alternative for plastic drinking straws across much of the world.
Related: Reduce, Reuse, Replace
Unlike single-use plastic straws, glass straws are specifically designed to be reusable and highly durable– despite what you may typically think about glass. Several companies have begun creating these sustainable alternatives for homes and businesses that can easily wash and reuse them.
The final recommended alternative to single-use plastic straws is reusable steel straws. However, it needs to be noted that while steel straws can effectively reduce plastic straw consumption, some stainless steel straws have been linked to the production of toxic chemicals when they are heated. Due to this, it may be better to rely on other alternative straw products. If not, please always be sure to research the particular steel straws you’re interested in before purchasing them.
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