Understanding Plastic Straw Pollution and What You Can Do to Help

It’s estimated that over 500 million plastic straws are used daily in America, and most of those straws end up in the ocean, polluting the water and interfering with marine life. Another statistic estimates that, at this rate, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. These are scary numbers, and few people know that plastic straws are the most widely used plastic product and are are among the top ten items found during beach clean ups.

Marine wildlife like sea turtles, birds, and mammals even get trapped in the plastic waste. Millions of turtles, birds, and other marine wildlife die each year from complications directly linked to plastic consumption. In addition, plastic pollution not only harms marine life but is also dangerous to humans. Plastic debris floating in the ocean absorbs many toxic pollutants, and these chemicals can cause endocrine disruption and cancer-causing mutations. When marine life like fish consume pieces of plastic, these toxins are absorbed into their body and eventually passed up the food chain, ending up on our dinner plates for our bodies to absorb.

How are plastic straws even getting in the ocean?

The image that may first come to mind is a person dropping a straw on the beach, leaving it to tumble in the sand and eventually blow into the ocean. However, though this does happen, plastic straws aren’t actually the most common type of litter—they are just the best at escaping from the confines of disposal. Aside from the plastic straws left on beaches and coastal resorts, plastic straws are known to blow out of overfilled trashcans, from cars and boats, and even from trash-collection facilities.

Once a straw has found its way outside of a trashcan, the odds are high that it will find its way to a body of water since wind and rain force pollution seaward. Think of plastic straws as great escape artists. Even when pains are taken to transport trash from one location to another, plastic straws still find a way to escape into the wild.

But wait—aren’t plastic straws recyclable?

Actually, no. This is a common misconception with plastic straws. Although the plastic they are made from is technically recyclable, plastic straws are generally not accepted in recycling programs because 1) plastic straws are too lightweight and small to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter and end up mixing with other recycling loads and 2) plastic straws are not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally into nontoxic materials.

So while technically recyclable, our current recycling system and machinery can’t handle plastic straws. As a result, the straws go to landfills or, as we know, escape into the ocean. Once in the ocean, plastic straws will dissolve into small particles, or “microplastics,” and leach chemicals into the water, harming marine wildlife and humans.

What can I do to make a difference?

Don’t worry—the answer is not completely eliminating straws from your lifestyle, so fear not, straw-lovers! There are still plenty of alternatives out there that don’t result in ecological harm. From bendy silicone straws, sturdy metal straws, to beautiful glass straws, you’ll find a reusable straw that works for you! However, glass straws might be your best option when it comes to finding an eco-friendly sipping device. Glass straws are reusable, recyclable, nontoxic, heat-resistant, and shatter-resistant when made from borosilicate. Also, unlike paper or metal straws, glass straws don’t change the taste of your drink.

If you’re ready to take the leap from plastic straws to reusable straws, check out Fawn Organics’ reusable glass Suck it Up Straws made from heat and shatter-resistant borosilicate. You have your choice from five vibrant colors—Aqua, Purple, Citrus, Blue, and Pink—as well as three different shapes—Bent, Cocktail, or Fatty. One person switching to glass straws saves the environment from an estimated 38,000 plastic straws. Making the switch doesn’t have to be inconvenient. Fawn Organics is proud to present a fun and functional alternative that is reusable and sustainable for our planet. Affordable, durable, and simple to clean in the dishwasher or sink, these glass straws make going green easy.

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