The anti-plastic straw movement grows stronger by the day. Campaigns are springing up around the country, urging people to hold the straw with their next drink, understand why this is such a big deal, and discover reusable alternatives.
The numbers are sufficiently shocking to make anyone want to change their habits. Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws daily enough to fill 127 school buses and circle the earths circumference 2.5 times. Five hundred million straws weigh about the same as 1,000 cars (close to 3 million pounds), which is a massive amount of plastic to throw in landfills on a daily basis.
Straws, which are made of a petroleum byproduct called polypropylene mixed with colorants and plasticizers, do not biodegrade naturally in the environment. They are also nearly impossible to recycle, so nobody really bothers. Some are incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals into the air, but most end up in the ground, where they will hang around for an estimated 400 years and leach chemicals into the ground. That means that every straw ever used still exists on this planet.
Fortunately, resistance is growing stronger, and several interesting efforts to promote the straw-free message have gained traction in recent years. There are also more companies offering reusable alternatives to plastic straws.
Check out the following list of resources to learn how you can get involved, educate others around you, and banish plastic straws forever from your life.
TheOne Less Strawcampaign has its official start on October 1, but individuals, businesses, and schools can sign up now. It has a nifty accountability system whereby, for every straw that you accidentally use (i.e. you forget to tell the server you dont want one), you have to pay into a fund that will then get donated to your school to promote environmental education. (See TreeHugger storyhere.)
The Last Plastic Strawurges restaurants and bars to change their policy to straws available upon request, in order to get people thinking about the issue and drastically cutting down on the number handed out each day. This group inspired Bacardi to launch itsHold the Straw campaign.
U-Konserve, seller of reusable food storage containers, has a fabulous Pinterest page called Switch the Straw with many helpful links to anti-plastic straw campaigns, infographics, and alternative products. U-Konserve is also offering a free straw-cleaning brush with the purchase of any reusable straws right now.
Straw Sleevesis a U.S. company that manufacturers cute little cloth bags to store reusable straws for easy accessibility when youre out for dinner or drinks. It also has an activeInstagram accountwith some great content, including facts about plastic pollution and photos of abandoned straws in beautiful natural settings, which is enough to inspire anyone to change their habits!
Where to find reusable straws:
Glass strawsGlass Dharmamakes borosilicate glass straws that come in a variety of lengths and diameters.
Strawsomealso sells handmade glass straws, made in USA with lifetime guarantee and free US/Canada shipping. They come in different colors, shapes, diameters, and lengths.
Metal strawsMulled Mindsells made-in-USA stainless straws that are shipped in recycled and reused materials.
Sets of 4 stainless steel straws with a cleaning brushsold by Life Without Plastic.
Bamboo straws These 10bamboo strawsare entirely unprocessed; theyre just dried hollow stalks that can be washed, air-dried, and used for many years.
Bambu Home sellsslightly shorter straws, at 8.5 long. They are made from organic bamboo, harvested from wild groves, rather than plantations, and are finished with an organic flax seed oil.
Paper straws Paper straws still generate some waste, so theyre not as good as reusable options, but a huge improvement over plastic. You can order fromAardvark Straws(made in USA).
Straw straws Straws that are made from straw? Its the most logical material out there. Thiscompanyhas an online store set to open in October 2016, so youll be able to place orders shortly.
Pasta straws Its the ultimate zero waste solution and kids will love it. Look forbucatini or perciatelli, long spaghetti-like, tube-shaped noodles with holes in the middle, through which its possible to sip liquids. Then you can cook your straws and eat them for dinner.
Get ready to watch the STRAWS documentary film, currently undergoing production. It will delve deep into the disturbing world of plastic straw pollution, one of the top five marine polluters. Filming is supposed to be done by autumn 2016. Learn morehere.
Written by Katherine Martinko.This post originally appeared onTreeHugger.
Photo Credit: One Less Straw Campaign/Facebook
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
How to Banish Plastic Straws From Your Life Forever