February 23, 2018 is National Straw Elimination Day. The hashtag #SkipTheStraw is a movement to ban the use of plastic straws from your routine.
Straws suck, literally and figuratively. Plastic straws are a huge problem for our environment. They are filling our landfills, soil, oceans and wildlife habitats. The problem is plastic straws don’t biodegrade for 500+ years causing plastic toxins to seep into our waterways and wildlife habitats causing pollution and a threat to our wildlife.
Think about how often you use straws per week? Everything from takeout cups (coldbrew coffee and smoothies), children’s juice boxes, fountain pop in cafeterias and movie theatres, combo meals with a takeout drink at McDonald's, you use it once then it immediately becomes waste.
When you look at Canadian straw usage the numbers are astounding. According to the U.S. National Park Service, Americans use 500 million plastic drinking straws daily. That’s approximately 1.6 straws per person per day. Take into consideration Canada’s population and that means Canadians throw away 57 million straws every 24 hours!
Hummingbird Straw, a glass straw producer, says if one person switches to an alternative straw material (such as glass, bamboo or paper) it eliminates 38,000 from landfills annually!
Additionally, there are health benefits to changing your straw choice. Plastic contains toxins and colouring agents associated with hormonal disruption, obesity and some forms of cancer.
So how can you do your part? Switching to an alternative form of straw that can be re-used, recycled or biodegrade is the best. Here are some options to consider switching to!
Glass/Stainless Steel straws are a great alternatives to plastic considering you can reuse them. Transport is light and compact. Glass straws, despite being a risker option due to suspected breaking are actually made out of durable glass material similar to that of Pyrex glass containers and cooking dishes.
Bamboo is the most affordable alternative straw. Bamboo straws are a naturally sourced material and aren’t pre-treated. Bamboo is durable and a fast growing plant meaning there is plenty of supply to produce bamboo straws. The best part if you can reuse them and if you need a new one you can compost the old one and it will biodegrade.
Paper, still an alternative to plastic, is perhaps the least sustainable of the alternative materials above. Paper straws are still one-time use straws but, they biodegrade/recycle easily. Ideally only straws in contact with water should be recycled so any residues from flavoured drinks don’t contaminate the recycling process. Also an affordable and transportable alternative, paper straws can be a good transitioning straw from plastic to paper for events and parties.
The elimination of plastic straws is an easy task. Straws as a onetime use tool are purely a convenience. Eliminating it out of your consumer-diet can mean saving 38,000 straws from our waterways, earth and landfills for 2018 alone!
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