PLASTIC STRAWS- A MAJOR THREAT TO OCEAN SPECIES AND OUR ENVIRONMENT

The next time when you purchase a go-to cup of some drink, you will be surprised to see that your straw is made of paper. The reason for this happening is that today more and more restaurants are trying to stop using plastic straws, and some big cities have already banned its use.

Do we often wonder how a little thing like straw causes such a big fuss? It’s actually the small size of these straws that make them very harmful to the environment. There is certainly a lot to learn about these plastic materials- so read on for more information on how they affect our oceans and environment. 

HOW DO PLASTIC STRAWS AFFECT OUR OCEANS? 

Plastic straws in one of the top 10 items that have been found every year in oceans when they are cleaned. Plastic straws are non-biodegradable in nature. The material eventually breaks down into tiny particles which are known as microplastics that have a size of 5 millimeters or even smaller. This makes it so difficult to clean straws in the oceans.  

This plastic is interfering with the underwater ecosystem and is the biggest reason for killing sea animals. When sea animals see these straws floating around them, they think that they are food and eventually end up eating them. This does not only cause a choking hazard, but this also sends a false sensation of having a full stomach which leads them to die out of starvation. 

This plastic is interfering with the underwater ecosystem and is the biggest reason for killing sea animals. When sea animals see these straws floating around them, they think that they are food and eventually end up eating them. This does not only cause a choking hazard, but this also sends a false sensation of having a full stomach which leads them to die out of starvation. 

There have been many cases recently, where whales and dolphins were found dead because of plastic straw pollution. The stomach of these water animals was found full of plastic. 

HOW DO STRAWS END UP INTO THE OCEAN? 

This is a very important question that arises in our mind whenever we think about the drastic situation faced by the animals in the ocean. Well, there is nothing surprising about it because humans are the only ones who use plastic straws. So, we are the ones who are responsible for getting plastic straws into the ocean. 

Plastic straws are so lightweight, so that is why it is very easily blown by the wind and floats into the ocean. This generally happens when plastic straws are littered on or near the beach and wind carries them from the uncovered trash landfills and cans into the ocean. Straws are also blown off by the boats or cruises and by the gutters that lead to the oceans. 

Talking about another dangerous plastic waste that harms ocean life, comes mainly from fishing. A recent study has shown that more than 46 percent of the Great Pacific trash comprises fishing nets. The researchers claimed that it was very difficult to identify the form of the plastic in Great Pacific as most of the plastic was in its tiny form. However, the researchers could identify that most of the plastic came from the fishing activities only and that waste comprised of crates, ropes, eel trap cones, and oyster spacers. 

Now that we know plastic straw pollution facts, we must also look up some ways in which we can avoid such pollution in water bodies. Below are some points in which plastic pollution in oceans can be decreased. 

Ways to reduce plastic pollution in oceans: 

Reduce the use of single-use plastics:

Wherever you live, the simplest way in order to reduce plastic pollution is to avoid using single-use plastics. These single-use plastics include plastic bags, straws, water bottles, utensils, cups, etc. The best way in which you can avoid these products is to replace them with their reusable versions. 

Try to participate or contribute to beach or river cleanup:

You can contribute to reducing plastic pollution by participating in ocean or beach clean drives. This is the most direct way in which you can help reduce plastic pollution. You can also simply go to the beach with your friends or family and collect plastic waste on your own. 

Avoid products that contain microbeads:

Tiny plastic particles which are known as microbeads are now the leading source of ocean pollution. These microbeads are found in certain products that we use daily such as face scrubs, body washes, and tubes of toothpaste. These products enter the ocean through our sewer systems and affect thousands of species living there. 

So what you can do is, check the list of ingredients before you buy these products. These products should avoid ingredients such as polyethylene and polypropylene. You can also check the ingredients that contain microbeads by searching for it on google. 

Recycle properly: You must understand this, even without an explanation. Whenever you use single-use plastic make sure that you get them recycled properly. At present, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled in the world. Recycling helps in reducing the amount of new plastic circulation into the oceans. Also, make sure to contact your local recycling center in order to know what all the plastic they accept. 

Spread the word: You must stay informed related to various issues that are happening on plastic pollution and also make sure that people surrounding you are aware of the problem. Tell your family and friends how can they be part of the solution. 

WHY ARE PLASTIC STRAWS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT? 

We have already discussed the effect of plastic straws on the life of animals living in oceans. Now, let us discuss the plastic straw’s environmental impact.  

While we all love sipping our favorite drinks with a plastic straw but are you really aware of the fact that these plastic straws do a lot of harm to the environment? Just like plastic bags and bottles, plastic straws also end up in landfills, thereby polluting the environment with non-biodegradable waste. 

 Let us discuss in detail the dangers of plastic straws to our environment. 

Plastic takes hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to break down. Think about it in another way- every piece of plastic that you have ever wasted or dumped still exists.

If the above point isn’t alarming enough, as plastic decomposes it releases very harmful gases including methane into our environment. 

We only use plastic straws once and throw them away. That is why plastic straws are the biggest culprits that end up in landfills. 

Although straws are a small part of the problem, recently they have been given a lot of attention because of how difficult it is to recycle it. You might also be thinking that are plastic straws recyclable or not?  So, let’s have a look at it also. 

WHY CAN’T STRAWS BE RECYCLED? 

Plastic straws are generally made up of type 5 plastic which is known as polypropylene. Although polypropylene is recyclable, however, most of the recycling facilities do not accept plastic straws. The reason is that straws are small and flexible and can easily fall into the cracks of the machinery and usually get stuck into it.

There might be some places in your city where you can get these plastic straws, however, if your city does not then I have some special tricks by which you can get them recycled. Scroll down and check these tricks out. 

HOW YOU CAN RECYCLE PLASTIC STRAWS EASILY?

In case if your city doesn’t accept plastic straws for recycling then don’t worry. I have a trick which I call “repackaging method” in order to recycle plastic straws easily.  

Below are the details of this method:

Instead of directly putting the straws in the recycling machine, put all the straws into a container that is also made up of type 5 plastic known as polypropylene. By doing this, the straws will not fall into the cracks of the conveyor belt during the sorting process. This will make the straws easier to pass the sorting process. 

Take in a note that some recycling processes use human sorting, so your container containing straws can still be sorted out. So when your container passes the sorting stage, your straws will get shredded, cleaned and then melted along with other plastics in the plastic recycling process.

So what is the bottom line? Well, recycling isn’t the best option we have to solve the plastic straw problems. I recommend that people should stop using these straws because eventually even if they can be recycled, it is going to use energy and resources. 

WHY PLASTIC STRAWS SHOULD BE BANNED?

By now we have already discussed the harm of plastic straws to our environment. However, an argument of whether to ban plastic straws still exists in our society. 

There are some disabled people who need straws to drink. For such people carrying reusable straws and washing them for reuse is not a great option.

However, banning plastic straws can be moving one step forward in the right direction. We must always see the bigger picture of using this kind of plastic material.  Therefore, we must focus on using less or rather completely avoid using single-use plastics, not only plastic straws. 

Banning plastic straws is one solution to avoid pollution. However, eliminating straws altogether is not the right option. That is why there are various plastic straw alternatives that can be used by people who really need it or want it. Check out the list given below. 

ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC STRAWS

  • Bamboo Straws
  • Paper Straws
  • Hay Straws
  • Steels straws
  • Glass Straws
  • Silicone Straws

Recently restaurants are made aware of the issues related to plastic straw pollution and they have now stepped up to minimize the use of plastic straws. Luckily, they have numerous alternatives to harmful plastic straws. 

One very simple step in order to cut down plastic waste is to tell the servers not to bring a handful of plastic straws to every table. Bartenders should also avoid giving plastic stirrers in every drink. Of course, it is also very important to provide straws to customers who need them or ask for it. That is why restaurants must have some type of straws for people who have some disabilities. Below are some eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws. 

1. Bamboo Straws

Bamboo is biodegradable and naturally antibacterial. It is also 100% chemical-free and is one of the most sustainable resources on the earth. 

2. Paper Straws-Best substitute

The use of paper straws has been increasing all over the world now. It is a single-use straw. Paper straws are getting creative and they are available in different colors and sizes. 

3. Hay Straws

Hay straws are made up of stems of wheat plants. They are very inexpensive and biodegradable. The organic straw company not only makes hay straws but also PLA straws that are made from corn. 

4. Steels straws

Steel straws are reusable and durable in nature. They also come along with a case for people to carry around with them. 

5. Glass Straws

Glass straws are other options to enjoy drinking your wine. They can be made straight or bend according to one’s needs.

6. Silicone Straws

These straws are very flexible. If you think about it, it can be a great option. However, it has a drawback that it tastes and has the scent of that of rubber.

This was all the information that one needs to about the existing plastic straw pollution. Everyone should try their possible ways in order to control this waste, so as to reduce its harmful effect on the species living in oceans as well as to our environment. 

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