500 MILLION straws every single day, in the US only. I just can’t wrap my head around that number. That’s enough straws to circle the earth 2.5 times, wow.
Straws: I just really really hate them. To be honest, I understand why people find straws ‘fun’ and they can be very useful, especially when you’re a kid and are trying not to spill. But come on, we’re not kids anymore. I think we’re all capable of drinking our coke or our favorite cocktail without spilling, aren’t we? Ok, but let’s talk about why I hate them so much first!
So, as you all know, straws are made of plastic. Plastic means lots of gas and oil extraction, and also lots of electricity to power the plastic production ( = carbon emissions and pollution). We all understand why that’s a bad thing, right? But more specifically, straws are made of type 5 plastic or polypropylene (made from petroleum). Type 5 plastics could actually be recycled, but most curbside recycling programs don’t collect them, so they end up in landfills or the ocean, where they take over 200 years to decompose, leaking toxic chemicals into the environment. Who knew an innocent little straw could have such a big, negative impact? But think about that statistic, 500 million straws every. single. day. Now you see the problem?
Did you know that straws are in the top 10 of plastic items found during beach clean ups? In (beach) bars around the world, straws are being served with drinks in big numbers. Sometimes one drink gets more than one straw, just because it looks ‘pretty’. Seriously people, biggest waste ever. If you don’t need 1, you definitely don’t need 2, 3 or 4 (but let’s blame the bars for now ;)) Straws near the beach = straws in the ocean, and that means trouble. I’ll spare you the video of the turtle with a plastic straw in his nose, but these suckers are effecting marine life. They’re either being mistaken for food or breaking down into tiny, toxic micro plastics, which then end up in their food chain (which then often ends up in ours). Yikes.
What can you do?
Get your own reusable straw if you really like straws, or need something to stir your drink.
It’s so easy to bring along wherever you go, cause it’s so light and fits in almost every bag. My best friends bought me my first metal straw & I’ve loved it ever since. For people living in Ghent, you can get your own straw at Ohne, our local zero waste store. For others, I’m sure there are plenty online. I actually bought 8 of them on sale at Urban Outfitters, I just couldn’t resist. Now I have enough reusable straws for a cocktail party, woop woop.
But most importantly: be proactive - when you order a drink, just kindly ask the waiter for no straw. The first couple of times, I kept forgetting to ask for no straw, but you get used to it. It’s takes time before some things become a habit, but keep going! Refuse the straw!
So think about it, is one straw in your drink really worth the impact it’s having on our environment? I hope you’ll think twice next time you order a drink & help me save the oceans (and the planet) one straw at a time!