To pack and carry reusable items every day is new thought to many, even though our grandparents did not give it a second thought. Where did we go wrong, now that we realize that the convenience of single use is not so convenient after all?
Thankfully our online, internet savy culture has bought us to our senses through graphic images pouring in from all round the world showing us the consequences of a single use society, and more pointedly, to the perils of the “throw away” plastics that we mindlessly adopted as a way of life.
The straw is now the mascot, an item that everyone relates to in the single-use plastic category. Why straws? Because they are automatically supplied to the public, in just about every drink served. In many cases, patrons will request “no straw” to their servers, only to find their drink adorned with the straw automatically. Gratefully, this is changing as word spreads about how harmful these plastic tubes are to our environment and the fact that they do not just simply go away.
Straws are singled out of the plastic waste lineup for other various reasons. The problematic size and shape of straws is one factor as they are easily tangled, lodged, or ingested by wildlife. In addition, the type of plastic they re made from is known to produce toxicity and is unrecyclable as well. All good reasons why Jackie Nunez uses the term “gateway plastic” as straws become a multifaceted example of the plastic pollution issues our world faces.
Trying to wrap one’s mind around just how many plastic straws that are used for mere moments, and then mindlessly tossed aside has the experts scrambling to calculate statistics on this topic. Many have heard the statistic, “500 million straws a day (USA only) or the equivalent of 127 busloads full of straws” - in the USA alone! More reports are coming forth with estimates of straw counts – it is overwhelming!
While arguably, the announcement from Starbucks to be plastic straw free by 2020 does not solve our world’s plastic problems, it is a statement acknowledging that changes of this type are needed in order to change course when it comes to single use and plastic pollution.
Jeannie Jarnot has been carrying a reusable straw for years. In a recent blog post, she describes how she was introduced to her first reusable straw and some of her experiences while adopting the new habit. Her company, Beauty Heroes, is partnered with 5 Gyres to bring these concerns of plastic pollution into the cosmetic industry to create a wave of change toward a sustainable future, including cleaner oceans. She continues to carry a straw and offers glass straws and bamboo utensils in cloth carrying cases to her customers and subscribers.
StrawSleeves social media pages encourages discussion and the sharing of habits as establishments change policies - and cities, states and countries put laws in place with intent to solve a problem that has become a crisis. Straw or no straw? We still have many choices as reusable straws become commonplace over time.