The answer is... you don't.
Preserving our planet for future generations often begins with simple steps. One of the simplest steps you can make today is to cut single use plastic straws out of your life. With many people around the world ditching plastic straws and major cities banning them altogether, it’s not surprising that the 2018 Word of the Year was “Single-Use.” Though plastic straws are small, the negative impact they have on our environment is larger than you might expect.
20 minutes that can last a lifetime.
If you use just a few straws every once in a while, you might not believe that your actions are having a negative impact on the environment. However, with the average person using 38,000 straws in their lifetime, straws add up. In just one day, Americans use up to 390 million disposable plastic straws. That’s enough straws to circle the planet almost twice a day. Once they’re used, plastic straws cannot be recycled – items like plastic straws that are smaller than 2x2” will fall through sorting machinery at recycling facilities, and are sent to the landfill. And the worst part? Plastic straws are typically used for less than 20 minutes before being tossed in the trash. That straw you use for 20 minutes of convenience ends up lasting about 500 years in a landfill.
Though many people focus on the harmful effects of plastic straws once they’re disposed of, the harm actually begins before they’re created. Plastic straws are made from crude oil or petroleum, a limited resource. Drilling and transporting oil has led to catastrophic oil spills that threaten water quality and harm wildlife. The process of transforming crude oil into petrochemicals also releases harmful toxins into the air, and workers are exposed to chemicals that are known carcinogens. Plastic’s damage to the health of workers, communities, and our planet is wide-reaching.
An ocean of waste.
In addition to filling up our landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose, plastic straws are also polluting our oceans in overwhelming amounts. It’s estimated that 7.5% of plastic waste in the ocean is straws and stirrers. This plastic pollution is killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals every year as a result of ingested plastic. And, if you’re not startled enough, here’s a fact that’ll surely astound you: The World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the number of fish.
Paper or plastic? You decide.
So, do you really need that straw? If you like to sip beverages such as smoothies or iced coffee through a straw, get your hands on some reusable straws. Avoiding disposables is always the best choice, since you save energy and water that would be used to produce the straws. You can find reusable straws made from bamboo, glass or metal. Our purchasing choices ultimately determine what products are produced - so going straw-free makes a real difference!
When you need a disposable straw, reach for a compostable one. World Centric’s new Kraft Paper Straws are manufactured utilizing FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified kraft paper that meets strict standards for environmental and social responsibility. Unlike some paper straws on the market, our kraft paper straws are durable and won’t fall apart in liquids. World Centric straws also contain no phthalates, BPA, or chlorine bleach, and are compostable.
Straws may be small, but they’re just the beginning of a growing movement to rethink “single-use” disposables. With our kraft paper straws, we’re moving towards a future where the word of the year won’t be so wasteful.
Ocean Conservancy: Together For Our Ocean
Ocean Conservancy: The Last Straw