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A plastic straw ban is an idea that is growing in popularity. Basically, plastic straws are bad for the environment. Unfortunately, there are a lot more straws in the world than ever before!  In response, several countries now have laws to ban or limit the distribution and use of plastic straws. 

HISTORY OF DRINKING STRAWS

Straws are a great tool for drinking and they have a long history. (Research Source: National Geographic). For example:

  • It is thought that the ancient Sumerians made cylindrical tubes to get fluids out of jars.
  • Also, Marvin Chester Stone was the inventor of the modern-day drinking straw.  Basically, he wrapped strips of paper and tape around a pencil to help shape the first straw.
  • In the 1930s, Joseph Friedman came up with a straw that could bend. This made the drinking straw a lot better.
  • Today, nearly every country in the world uses straws. These straws come in different sizes and in different styles.
  • The colors and shapes of some of them make them look better.
  • The bendable straws make it possible for people to drink even when they are lying down.
plastic straw pollution data

HOW MUCH DO PLASTIC STRAWS CONTRIBUTE TO POLLUTION?

Overall, plastic straws are a big problem all over the world. Therefore, many environmentalists want a plastic straw ban. 

  • First, plastic straws are a major source of pollution in the environment.
  • For example, Australia uses as many as 3.5 billion straws every year.
  • In the United States, scientists say, we use about 500 million plastic straws every single day.
  • It’s estimated that people in Europe use as many as 25.3 billion straws each year.
  • Generally, people use straws only once. This means that most straws hit the trash almost right away.
  • Additionally, plastic straws are often found in landfills or in the ocean. Basically, they are hard to get rid of.
  • It is estimated that between 437 million and 8.3 billion plastic straws end up in the oceans around the world.
  • Overall, there are countless ways plastic straws harm the environment.

HOW PLASTIC STRAWS AFFECT THE ENVIRONMENT

First, plastic straws do not break down. Basically, this means they can’t be broken down by the living microorganisms that decompose other things. Here are some more ways plastic straws hurt the environment:

  • One, if you don’t throw them away in the right way, plastic straws stay in the environment for many years or even decades. It is thought that a plastic straw take up to 200 years to break down.
  • Two, straws can’t break down on their own, which is bad for the environment and the whole world.
  • Three, in the process of decomposition, plastic straws give off chemicals that make people and animals sick.
  • Four, millions of plastic straws are thrown away into the environment every day. Overall, this amount of waste will take a long time to clean up.

PLASTIC STRAW POLLUTION FACTS

Plastic straws cause a lot of waste. Millions of plastic straws are all over the world, and they are hurting ecosystems.

plastic straw pollution facts
  1. Plastic Straws Pollute the Oceans

  • The oceans have a lot of plastic straws and other plastic pollution. Marine conservation groups say that 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean each year. Unfortunately,  plastic straws are only part of the ocean plastic pollution crisis.
  • Plastic straws are bad for marine animals. One is example is that plastic straws kill sea turtles and other animals in the sea. Animals think the plastic debris is food because they don’t know any better. Then the animals can’t digest the plastic straws. Next, the straws get stuck in the animal’s digestive tract and kills them.
  • Because plastic straws are light, they float in the water for a long time, blocking out the sun. This slows down the growth of phytoplankton in the ocean, which is good for the fish
  1. Plastic Straws Cause Soil Pollution

  • Soil microbes can’t break down the type of plastic drinking straws are made of. 
  • Plastic straw waste in the ground may break down into small pieces of plastic. Then toxins “microplastics” get into the soil.
  • Chemicals from plastic straws get into underground water sources and pollute the water. Next, contaminated water makes the people who drink it sick.
  • Polluted soil harms the health of plants and animals in an ecosystem. Overall, if you have microplastics in your food chain, they harm everything in your food chain.
  1. Burning Plastic Straws Causes Air Pollution

  • Most of the plastic waste on the planet is in landfills. Since landfills fill up with waste quickly, local governments burn them to reduce the amount of waste.
  • Also, the burning of plastic straws releases dangerous gasses into the air. Basically, this is true of most plastic materials when they burn.
  • These chemicals cause asthma and other health problems.
  • Finally, when factories make straws they create a lot of carbon dioxide.  In fact, this is one of the main gases that cause global warming.

IS THE PLASTIC STRAW BAN EFFECTIVE?

Plastic straw bans are successful in some countries (Research source: Trust):

  • However, banning plastic straws will not solve the plastic problem.
  • Plastic straws only make up about 1% of all the plastic waste in the world.
  • Conservation groups and governments do make a big difference in the environment thanks to their work.
  • There is still a lot of work to do to keep the world plastic-free.

HOW TO REDUCE PLASTIC STRAWS

There are several ways to reduce the number of plastic straws in the environment. Some examples include:

how to reduce plastic straws

Plastic Straw Ban – Alternatives to Plastic Straws:

  • Glass Straws

-Of course, these straws are made of glass, which has some benefits. The biggest benefit is that people reuse them. This way, people buy them once and use them for months or even years. As a reminder, clean glass straws after each use to avoid spreading germs.

  • Meta Straws

-First, metal straws are very strong, so people reuse them.

-Second, it’s important to remember to make straws from food-grade metals.   This way, people know they won’t get sick from unsafe chemicals. 

  • Paper Straws

-Unlike plastic straws, paper straws break down. On average, they break down in 90 days. Therefore, they are safer for the soil and the rest of the world. Also, paper straws are easy to recycle. This means they won’t add to the amount of waste already in landfills.

  • Silicone Straws

-Silicone straws don’t have harmful toxins in them. So, they are safe for all ages.  These straws are not only reusable, but they also last a very long time. 

HOW TO STOP THE PLASTIC POLLUTION

It can help the world’s plastic problem if there are bans and restrictions on things like plastic bags and straws. Additionally, when people shop, they should only buy materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable. Overall, this will cut down a lot on the number of plastic materials in the environment.

Finally, the government and environmental protection agencies should talk to people in their areas about the effects of plastic pollution. If there isn’t a global effort to reduce the growing plastic threat the environment will suffer.  Plastic harms the ocean, freshwater sources, and other parts of the environment. Perhaps it’s time to take the first step and start a plastic straw ban. 

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