Ditching Single-Use Plastic: The "No Straw Please" Movement

Updated on November 17, 2018
Layne Holmes profile image

Layne has been a big fan of moving towards zero waste. She enjoys researching some of the latest eco-trends.

Banning straws wont save the world, but it will make a dent.
Banning straws wont save the world, but it will make a dent. | Source

Why Are Plastic Straws Being Banned?

As someone who is hugely into green living, I have some harsh news for all of you strawless die-hards. Banning plastic straws is not going to save the environment. Don't get me wrong, I like what I see in terms of reduced waste and single-use plastic. I have had my own reusable straw for over 5 years and take it with me when I travel. I'm so on board with the plastic straw ban, but why straws and why now?

Who Started the "Say No to Straws" Movement?

Believe it or not, a 9-year-old kid named Milo Cress started the movement in 2011 when he launched the "Be Straw Free" campaign. According to USA today, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been produced globally since the mid-1950s. As for Milo Cress, he revealed that over 500 million straws are used in the U.S. alone daily. That is a lot of straws.

Some People Do Need Straws

Individuals who have had a stroke, have MS, are autistic, or other live with other major life conditions need a straw. That doesn't stop them being green. In fact, if you know someone who is eco-conscious and wants to join the movement and requires a straw daily, consider gifting them a reusable straw. You'd be a super cool friend.

Does Plastic Biodegrade?

It takes 200 years for a plastic straw to biodegrade.

Plastic straws take over 200 years to biodegrade.
Plastic straws take over 200 years to biodegrade. | Source

Facts and Statistics About Plastic Straws

  • Recent data from Freedonia Group reported that the U.S. currently uses 390 million plastic straws every day.
  • Plastic straws make the list of the top 10 most common items found in ocean trash during beach cleanups.

Why Can't Plastic Straws Be Recycled?

Unfortunately, plastic straws can't be recycled on a large level. They are simply too lightweight so they get mixed up in garbage or fall through sorting screens.

How Do Straws Get Into the Ocean?

By way of humans! Straws wind up in the ocean because of human carelessness—forgetting to collect and throw away our straws (essentially littering). Many straws get blown out of trash cans, vehicles, and the vessels that transport our litter to the dump.

1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die every year from ingesting plastic.

— GetGreenNow.com

My Favorite Reusable Straw

SIMPLY STRAWS CLASSIC SINGLE STRAW CASE SET - STRAIGHT CLASSIC GLASS 8 in or 10 in STRAW + BLACK ORGANIC SLEEVE + CLEANING BRUSH FOR CUPS, MASON JARS, YETI 30 OZ & TUMBLERS
SIMPLY STRAWS CLASSIC SINGLE STRAW CASE SET - STRAIGHT CLASSIC GLASS 8 in or 10 in STRAW + BLACK ORGANIC SLEEVE + CLEANING BRUSH FOR CUPS, MASON JARS, YETI 30 OZ & TUMBLERS

Simply Straws is my favorite. I've owned three of their straws in the last 6 years. They last a while. I also really like the wide and bent versions. This is the straw that I use when I'm on the go. I also recommend purchasing the hygienic sleeve.

 

Why Is Plastic Dangerous?

The plastic that makes it into the ocean gets obliterated into small pieces called microplastics. Trace amounts of plastic have even been showing up in our "clean" tap water, in food, and in living marine species!

What About Compostable Straws?

Unfortunately, the ocean does a good job of preserving things and biodegradable straws take much longer to break down in the ocean than in a testing facility. Going for reusable stainless steel or glass straws or simply saying no to straws is still the answer.

You can work your way towards living a zero-waste lifestyle.
You can work your way towards living a zero-waste lifestyle. | Source

The History of the Straw

The history of straws dates back as far as 5,000 years ago; they were used by Ancient Sumerians to sample beer. In 1888 the straw was patented by Marvin Stone. With the discovery of plastic years later in the 1960s, plastic became mass produced. According to a stat reported by National Geographic, "Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year, and straws comprise just 0.025 percent of that."

. . . . by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

— Strawlessocean.org

Can Banning Plastic Straws Really Save the Ocean?

Here is some exciting news:

  • Starbucks is looking to ban plastic straws by the year 2020.
  • McDonalds will ban plastic straws in restaurants in the U.K. and in Ireland.
  • Alaska Airlines agreed to ban straws and stirrers on flights.

Say "No" to Single-Use Plastic

While banning straws isn't going to save the planet, saying no to single-use plastic (straws included) will certainly make an impact on a large level. Here's what you can do:

  • Use reusable shopping bags (cloth)
  • Buy a reusable water bottle; I use a 16 oz LifeFactory bottle. It's high quality and durable—not to mention BPA-free
  • Do not order takeout unless the restaurant uses compostable containers
  • Shop locally—don't buy pre-packed foods
  • Ladies—take a look at reusable menstrual products (Diva cup, washable pads)
  • Look into DIY cleaning products
  • Look into DIY cosmetics and beauty products
  • Carry your own reusable utensils
  • Recycle!

Commit to Zero-Waste

Lifefactory 16-Ounce BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Leakproof Classic Cap and Silicone Sleeve, Carbon
Lifefactory 16-Ounce BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Leakproof Classic Cap and Silicone Sleeve, Carbon

Go eco with LifeFactory. I love this water bottle. It has a wide mouth which allows for me to throw my sliced lemon and cucumber in to make spa water. It's durable and made of high-quality glass so washing it is easy. I take it whenever I leave the house.

 

Video: Plastic Straws Suck—Zero Waste

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        9 months ago from Bend, Oregon

        Cecil—so glad to know you're interested in making some changes. I'm working on it too!

      • SgtCecil profile image

        Cecil Kenmill 

        9 months ago from Osaka, Japan

        Great info! I don't use straws but I can cut down on other plastic things in my life. Thanks for the heads up!

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