It was reported that in 2015, worldwide plastic consumption totaled 300 million metric tons. Since 1950, it is estimated that around 8.8 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. That is equivalent to the weight of over 800,000 Eiffel Towers, to put things into perspective. Plastic consumption is becoming a major issue, especially due to the convenience it allows us. Plastic straws may seem like a small, insignificant piece of plastic, but these straws are completely non-essential, often don’t get recycled properly, end up in our oceans harming animals, and add to the tons and tons of plastic we continue to produce.
The Beginning of the Plastic Straw Ban
In July 2018, Seattle became the first city to ban the use of single-use plastic straws and utensils. Instead, all the restaurants and bars using disposables will have to opt for environmentally friendly options such as paper straws, which are completely compostable, or reusable utensils. Some businesses are nixing the straws altogether. Let’s think about this for a second. Just how essential is a straw to your skinny iced latte? Why not just pop the plastic top off and drink out of the cup directly? Isn’t that what we would do if we made coffee at home? Ever since Seattle led the charge into making environmentally conscious policies a priority, other major cities such as New York and San Francisco have followed suit with their own plastic straw bans.
Progress of the Plastic Straw Ban
California has become the first state to effect a plastic straw ban. Now, customers will have to ask for straws with their purchases. Big corporations are pitching in. Starbucks, Aramark, and American Airlines are all promising to stop offering plastic straws to their customers. Both the UK and the European Union have plastic straw bans in the works. Banning plastic straws is not going to be enough to affect the major change we need, but it’s definitely a good start. By switching to paper straws and other disposables, we’re going to be able to set the stage for larger changes with time.
How Do We Affect a Change?
Straws are a major convenience for anyone on the go, so we understand it’s not easy to want to give up, especially when we think our little environmental footprint won’t make much of a difference alone. It’s way easier to walk and sip your drink than have to pause and drink from the cup or risk spilling all over yourself. Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives that are easily compostable and won’t have a negative environmental impact.
Unfortunately, many cities don’t have set policies to govern the plastic pollution problems we are facing today. That means millions of businesses are going unregulated and are free to continue using plastic straws. Believe it or not, businesses would be able to switch to paper straws with only a small increase in cost. If the demand for paper straws were to grow, those costs would come down to a comfortable and competitive price.
Here’s where you come in. It’s up to you and all of us to say no to plastic straw usage, especially in cities across the world without a ban in place. Skip the straw if there aren’t paper alternatives available and while you’re at it, skip the plastic lid on your to-go cup. If you use straws to drink at home, buy some paper straws to replace your plastic. Suggest paper straws and other disposables to your local mom and pop coffee shops. The best way to make a major change is by spreading awareness and creating demand.
Start taking steps towards being environmentally conscious today. Say no to plastic straws and start advocating for others to join the battle and end the use of plastic straws in favor of compostable materials.