The Impact of Drinking Straws

strawsToday is drinking straw day. I have have to admit my confusion when I first saw this on my Google of strange days to celebrate. I didn’t think much of it until I saw Trevor Noah’s interview with Adrian Grenier on the Daily Show a while back. He is an actor turned Hollywood environmentalist. Typically, these folks annoy me with their existential crisis about the global climate change while they fly around the world in their private jets, while the rest of us cant’ afford organic produce, but saying no to a straw is a small, simple thing I can do that can have a huge impact on the world. Here are a few of the things I learned:

  • Not all recycling facilities can handle straws. Although they are made of plastic, they aren’t labeled individually as to what sort of recycling procedure to take. Each facility determines whether they can take straws so call your local one to find out.
  • They’re only used once. When was the last time you washed and reused a plastic straw? The answer for me is never. I throw them away with my takeout cup. They can’t be put in the dishwasher because it is too hot and chemicals will release and probably give you cancer eventually.
  • They contain BPA. I remember learning about bisphenol acids which are some horrid chemical that mimics estrogen and, in high amounts, can cause infertility, sexual dysfunction, breast cancer, prostrate cancer, early puberty, and more.
  • They are made of plastic, which is notoriously bad for the environment because it takes so long to degrade. Unfortunately this means they end up contaminating natural habitats, especially the ocean. According to the Ocean Conservancy, it is in the top 10 pieces of litter found on beaches with over 600,000 picked up.
  • They are made using fossil fuels. You know, the CO2  that is killing out atmosphere causing violent storms which are killing people all around the world and causing droughts which can cause starvation. Environmentalist have been warning us about the dangers of fossil fuels for years (generations, actually), and now I find out this is how straws are being made.

Now that we know all the bad things plastic straws have to offer, let’s look at some of the lovely alternatives:

  • Just say No. When you go out to a restaurant, you can just politely refuse the offer of a straw.
  • Use a biodegradable straw like bamboo or paper. Science has brought us straws made of plants which aren’t as detrimental to our oceans because Mother Nature can break them down.
  • Use a reusable straw like glass or stainless steel which can be washed and used over and over again.

The challenges our planet faces are colossal but, with small changes to the way we all live, we can slow or even reverse our long term impact on the world. Today, use a straw alternative, or no straw at all, and share it on social media to help bring awareness to the problem with disposable plastic straws. #RefusePlasticStraws

Have a Sparkly Day!

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