This page was updated 15 July 2020.
Since last Saturday, I am the proud owner of a stainless steel straw. Yes, that’s right: I’m going to bring it with me everywhere to make sure I never have to use a plastic straw again.
A straw with every drink
Of course I knew that plastic straws aren’t environmentally friendly at all. But it was only after a friend of mine pointed this out, that I realised I had to do something about it, instead of accepting straws with every drink I order.
We went out for drinks the other day, and she was pointing out to me and another friend that it’s not enough to be vegan. With single-use plastic like straws are, we are still contributing to plastic pollution. It hit me because at this place where we were drinking, I got a new straw for every drink I ordered. That meant I got four straws that evening (three drinks, one with two straws!) This friend told us she usually asks if she can re-use the one she gets the first time, which is actually quite clever already.
Then, as we went to another bar, I specifically asked for no straw. But… I ended up getting two(!) straws in my strawberry daiquiri! Imagine how disappointed I was. And the worst part is: you can’t just bring the straws back for them to re-use them, even if you haven’t touched the straw, because they’ll throw them out immediately anyway. What a waste. I got home feeling a bit gloomy, thinking over and over about how much I was unwillingly contributing to plastic pollution. I always get frustrated about the amount of plastic wrapping in supermarkets (which is why Ron and I usually go to the local market), but getting straws even when you deliberately ask for no straws… It’s not right.
How straws contribute to plastic pollution
In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws (source). These straws are used for a couple of minutes and then take hundreds of years to break down. Almost everyone has seen or has heard of the sea turtle with a straw up it’s nostril. If you haven’t: watch it here (warning: graphic content and strong language). We are turning the oceans into a plastic soup, and it’s the sea creatures who are suffering from it. According to Oceanunite, “our plastic addiction and waste mismanagement is condemning countless marine birds and animals to death by entanglement or poisoning, and even leading to chemical contamination of the fish we eat.” They recommend to “dramatically cut down our consumption of single-use plastic such as food contained in plastic packaging or plastic straws, and make sure we recycle whenever possible.” (source)
Enough reasons to step over to an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic straw. Luckily, there are lots of lovely alternatives to the plastic straw. As I mentioned earlier, I am the proud owner of a stainless steel straw, but there are also bamboo straws to slurp your favourite drink with. There are also very handy brush cleaners available, a must-have to keep your straw clean!
Using sustainable straws is a privilege
I’ve made the step to use reusable straws. However, I do realise that this is not an option for everyone, and thinking it is in fact very ableist. There are people who can’t use a metal straw because it can hurt their teeth/gums. Some people aren’t able to use paper straws because they get all wet and soggy after a while. We need to keep in mind that although for us it might seem easy to swap plastic straws for metal or bamboo alternatives, this is not the case for everyone.
Do you use eco-friendly straws? Or do you just say no to straws? Let me know in the comments!