Single-use plastics are killing our environment

By Olivia Weber, CORRESPONDENT
On June 26, 2018

We may not like to acknowledge it, but human behavior deeply affects our planet, even the use of seemingly insignificant objects like plastic straws. They might seem like a small everyday item to us but, they are in fact a detriment to mother nature. It is our responsibility to care for our home. By stopping the simple act of using plastic straws, we can do just that.

On average, the U.S. alone uses about 500 million plastic straws per day, according to getgreennow.com. The straws that we use for just a few sips are then thrown away and begin polluting our earth, specifically our oceans.

According to getgreennow.com, plastic straws are the 11th most common type of ocean trash. This small item has slowly become a large problem. The site also says that every year, about one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die due to ingesting plastic.

Another major issue with the use of straws are that in most facilities they cannot be recycled. They simply are too small for many facilities to process, thus leaving them to occupy our landfills. Once they are in the landfills, they take up to 200 years to degrade. The practice of using plastic straws needs to end now, so that they do not continue to harm our planet for centuries to come.

Some countries have started taking a stand by banning single-use plastics. The most notable change came recently when the U.K. became the very first country to ban plastic straws. According to Buzzfeed News, Prime Minister Theresa May said that this is the first step for the country to become free of all plastic waste by 2042.

To go along with this new ban, McDonald’s is introducing paper straws in their U.K. and Ireland locations. Soon after, it was announced that it will begin to test plastic straw alternatives in many countries, including the U.S.

Other companies are following this initiative as well. SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean have all vowed to stop their use of not only plastic straws, but plastic bags as well.

Most single-use plastics are not necessary and can easily be done away with. It is up to businesses to take action now and stop distributing plastic straws to their consumers.

On the individual level, people can do their part by eliminating plastic straws in everyday life. If a straw is truly necessary, try switching to biodegradable paper or reusable metal straws. From there, advocating for less straw use in restaurants and demanding they switch to a straw on request policy is a reasonable next step.

By every American stopping their use of plastic straws, millions of these ocean-pollutants can be eliminated. Consider this to be the first step in the process of repairing our planet and healing our wildlife.

 

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