The little things in life can make such a tremendous difference. That’s true with a lot – including plastic straws. If you’re like many people, you’ve used plastic straws your whole life. It’s just the norm, especially if you’re out eating at a restaurant. And we seldom think of the environmental impact we are making.
Unfortunately, the tremendous difference here is not a positive one, but together we can reverse that, as many others already have started.
Why Plastic Straws Have a Bad Environmental Impact
Plastic pollution is a huge problem. So many of us have come to expect single use plastics like straws in many different situations. That’s what we need to change – that expectation. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone. Take a minute to let that sink in.
- 500,000,000 straws – that’s five hundred million
- This happens every day
- The United States only – not including any other countries
Even for a single day this is a disgusting number. Blow it out to a year and that means 182,500,000,000 straws. Used one time and then thrown away. For what?
This simple convenience is killing the environment and hurting so many innocent animals. We all know the famous turtle video that went viral from 2015. Although it’s painful to watch, it sheds some light on the pain we, as humans, cause.
Movements to Reduce Pollution from Plastic Drinking Straws
California has made a big move to reduce waste from plastic straws. The California straw ban is set to go into effect as of New Year’s Day, 2019. In September of 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law banning full-service restaurants from providing straws as a standard.
Unfortunately this law won’t remove plastic straw waste entirely. Customers do still have the option of using a straw upon request. And even worse – this law will only apply to full-service, dine in restaurants. Fast food restaurants, coffee shops, and delis will not be under this straw ban, according to eater.com.
There are also some big names following suit and banning plastic straws from their companies and their lives. Starbucks, American Airlines, and several hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott UK, and Hyatt are all pushing to reduce their reliance on single use plastics and eliminate plastic straws.
What You Can Do to Make a Difference
You can put an end to this. Together, we can put an end to it. There are many easy ways to reduce plastic pollution caused from straws. Veggums challenges you to be the difference, and inspire others to do the same.
- Personally give up plastic straws at home and at restaurants. It’s easy, just politely say that you don’t want a straw and hand it back to your server.
- Order environmentally friendly reusable straws as a plastic straw alternative. If you simply enjoy using a straw or have your own reasons for why it’s better, no worries. You don’t have to give up straws entirely. There are companies that make great alternatives. Giving Brush has awesome bamboo straws that you can use at home or take with you on the go.
Do you work in a restaurant or know someone that does? Make an even bigger change.
- Leave straws wrapped. If you’re not able to do away with plastic straws just yet at your restaurant, at least give people the option to turn it down. You can also ask if they’d like one, to give them more of an opportunity to say no.
- Change your restaurant’s straw policy. Only give out straws on request. Most people won’t even think about it or bother to ask, and maybe you’ll help them change bad habits.
- Order a set of reusable straws for restaurants. If you ordered enough reusable straws for the capacity of your restaurant, you wouldn’t need to stock plastic straws at all! They’re easy to clean, relatively inexpensive, and you wouldn’t have to constantly keep a stock of plastic straws. Not to mention it’s a great look for the business in terms of social responsibility.
Straws are Only a Small Part of the Problem
Eliminating plastic straws will make a difference. Don’t let anyone tell you that your efforts are for naught. According to USNews, plastic straws only account for about 4% of the plastic trash by piece that we see in our oceans. This equates to even less by weight.
This may make it seem insignificant, but every little bit truly does count. Making these conscious decisions and forming eco-friendly habits will promote you to reduce your plastic waste in other ways as well, and inspire others to do the same.
Ultimately, straw bans and personal vows to eliminate the use of plastic straws won’t solve our pollution problem. But it comes down to this: it’s a great step in the right direction.
Tell Us About How You Reduce Plastic Straw Pollution
We want to hear how you reduce your plastic pollution. Please comment favorite alternatives and creative ways to avoid plastic straws. This will help all of the Veggums community be more eco friendly, and reduce our waste of single use plastics!