The plastic straw has become a poster child for single-use plastic awareness. Almost everyone has used them at one time or another.
And we get it. Plastic straws are cheap. They’re fast. And honesty, a single piece of plastic doesn’t look like something dangerous.
What can one single straw do?
But multiply one itty bitty straw by billions of people in the world … and our trash starts to add up. So do the reasons to do the smart and KIND thing for our world!
1. Ecosystems on the Edge
The first reason is probably the most well known. Plastic straw waste puts valuable ecosystems at risk of disappearing forever.
Because those billions of pieces of trash have to go somewhere.
Most end up in landfills. They are the final “resting” place for our trash—where they will break down over hundreds and thousands of years. Some trash will be there forever.
Anywhere you find a landfill, you could once find trees, flowers, vegetation, native animals, all kinds of delicately balanced nature relationships. But once waste takes over, the natural inhabitants will never return.
Landfills can stretch for miles, dripping waste chemicals into the soil and nearby waterways, releasing greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere. Yikes.
2. Justice Goes Green
Trash heaps hurt human communities too! “Landfill” sounds passive—like maybe someone found a hole in the ground and just filled it up with waste for a little while.
No one was using the space anyway, right?
The truth isn’t very pretty. Landfills are created on purpose, usually near dis-advantaged communities where few have the resources to fight back.
The chemicals and noxious smells don’t just chase away wildlife. They can and are making people sick.
And without the funds to move, or resources to treat their health, some communities don’t have a choice but to accept a sicker way of life.
3. Got Water?
Thirsty? Then you have another reason to skip plastic!
So far as we know, planet earth is the only one with its own source of water. It’s absolutely necessary for life! In fact, you and I are literally 75% made of water.
But things aren’t looking so good for our precious global supply—or the amazing animals and fish that live under there. In 2014 the United Nations Environmental Program released a study estimating that "for every square mile of ocean, there are about 46,000 pieces of plastic."
The World Economic Forum charted an even more startling projection: by 2050, our ocean’s plastic could outweigh its fish.
Sometimes marine life mistakes plastic bits for their usual food. Those "micro-plastics" join the food chain—and eventually make it into our family dinners.
4. You’re Not a Science Experiment
You deserve to make healthy choices and decisions for your body!
And plastic waste doesn't just affect us “indirectly” through ecosystem collapse. Besides the bits that break down and get into our food and water, when you put a plastic straw to your lips you could be exposing yourself to chemicals.
Some of these can change the very way your body works. (But not the cool way, like turning you into a superhero.)
The plastic chemical BPA (Bisphenol-A) has been known to affect... well, lots of things. From your heart health to your hormone balance to other serious disease risk.
(For the science-lovers: Bisphenol S or BPS plastics, the once-famous replacement of BPA isn’t much better. )
5. Because We Care About Each Other!
That one plastic straw ends up costing much more than we realize. True, they’re only in our hands for five minutes, but they will stick around for 500 years!
Plastic straws end up in our ecosystems, waterways, and communities—along with millions of other single-use plastic items.
Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to our garbage. (Not when so much of our beautiful world is being affected.)
Convenience won’t cut it when social injustice and ecological collapse occur.
So if anyone gives you grief for caring about straws, turtles, ecosystems, or world health—remember these are all issues worth talking about because they affect all of us.
A million people making one small decision… adds up to a MILLION powerful decisions. And when we choose differently—whether that’s opting for reusable metal straws, paper straws, or no straw at all—we are taking part in a global rescue mission!
Do you want to join?