Posts tagged: health risk

Just Say No To Plastic Straws

Just Say No To Plastic Straws
Graphic ©

Plastic straws are used in huge amounts across the globe and billions are used annually. National Geographic has estimated that in the United Kingdom alone, over 4,400,000,000 plastic straws are discarded each year. In the USA, millions are thrown away daily. [1] Add in the figures for all the rest of the world’s countries and that’s an astonishing amount of plastic trash. Most of these straws are not recycled. They are a single use item that is in fact barely necessary. Life would go on just fine without them!

Plastic straws often end up in the oceans due to their light weight – and cause great damage to marine life. Plastic straws are gradually broken down by sunlight, wind, and water into small fragments called microplastics. Microplastics are taken in by marine life unintentionally as the creatures can not readily differentiate them from food. These ingested straws and broken up pieces of straws, together with other plastic trash, clog the stomach so much that it makes it impossible for the animal to take actual food. A study conducted between 2008 to 2010 at the Brazilian coast found that 15 % of penguins found dead at the coast contained plastic items in their stomach. [1] This is a horrible situation.

The negative impact of plastic straws is huge as they contribute to toxic plastic waste which disrupts every ecosystem on the planet. Marine life and seabirds are greatly harmed by plastic trash and is is now thought that more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine creatures are killed every year by the ingestion of plastics. [3]

The move to ditch plastic straws is under way. Some cities in the USA have banned them and other countries have proposed bans. This can’t happen soon enough!

Further options include a) simply not using a straw at all b) using a washable, reusable stainless steel (or glass) straw c) using biodegradable / compostable straws made for example from PLA (polylactic acid), rye stems, bamboo or even uncooked pasta. [1]

Learn More: Do You Know Which Plastics Have The Highest Cancer Risk? ►


[1] The Death of the Plastic Straw

[2] Brandão, M.L., K.M. Braga, and J.L. Luque, Marine debris ingestion by Magellanic penguins, Spheniscus magellanicus (Aves: Sphenisciformes), from the Brazilian coastal zone. Marine pollution bulletin, 2011. 62(10): p. 2246-2249.

[3] Panageas, A., The Environmental Impact of Straws and Other Plastics. DU Quark, 2019. 3(2): p. 66-68.