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:
- The modern drinking straw has its origins in ancient times, when people used hollow plant stems to sip liquids.
- It is thought that the ancient Sumerians made cylindrical tubes to get fluids out of jars.
- In 1888, Marvin Chester Stone invented the modern-day drinking straw. He wrapped strips of paper and tape around a pencil to help shape the first straw.
- In the early 20th century, plastic straws began to be produced. The first plastic straws were made from cellulose acetate, which was later replaced by polypropylene due to concerns about safety and environmental impact.
- In the 1930s, Joseph Friedman created a straw that could bend. Bendable straws make it possible for people to drink even when they are lying down.
HOW MUCH DO PLASTIC STRAWS CONTRIBUTE TO POLLUTION?
- Plastic straws also contribute to the larger problem of plastic pollution in general. Plastic does not biodegrade like organic materials do; instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics that can persist in the environment for centuries. These microplastics can enter the food chain when consumed by smaller organisms, eventually working their way up to humans.
- Australia uses as many as 3.5 billion straws every year, and Europeans use as many as 25.3 billion straws each year. However, in the United States, scientists say, we use about 500 million plastic straws every single day.
- Generally, people use straws only once. So, most straws are thrown away almost immediately.
- Plastic straws are lightweight and easily carried by wind and water currents, which means they can travel long distances from their point of origin. Many end up in the ocean.
- A study by the environmental group Ocean Conservancy found that volunteers collected nearly 9 million straws and stirrers from beaches around the world during a single day of cleanup efforts in 2015.
- While plastic straws represent only a fraction of overall plastic pollution in the ocean, their impact on marine animals can be significant due to their ability to entangle or be ingested.
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 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
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.
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 have been effective in raising awareness about the issue of plastic pollution and encouraging individuals and businesses to reduce their use of single-use plastics. However, just banning plastic straws will not solve the world’s overall plastic problem.
- Plastic straws only make up about 1% of all the plastic waste in the world.
- There is still a lot of work to do to keep the world plastic-free.
HOW TO REDUCE PLASTIC STRAWS
While plastic straws represent only a small fraction of overall plastic waste, they have become a symbol of our reliance on single-use plastics and the need for more sustainable alternatives.
Plastic Straw Ban – Alternatives to Plastic 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.
-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.
-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 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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