Reduce, Reuse: Straws

Sophie Jeffrey, Editor

Planet Earth is pretty much swimming in plastic because some form of plastic is always within an arm’s reach of someone. Plastic straws and utensils are sold in 100-piece packs at grocery stores and are bagged by plastic bags. I would bet that cafes and restaurants have a storage room just for plastic utensils, straws, and bags. Many containers are made from plastic as well as everyday stationery items such as mechanical pencils or tape dispensers, but at least these products are reused or recycled all the time. However, tragically, non-reusable plastic products seem to have found a home in nature; they can be spotted lying on the ground or floating around in the ocean in massive garbage patches larger than the size of Texas. Unfortunately, the plastic is then swallowed up by a hungry marine animal that was mistaking the plastic for an aquatic plant. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, and even when it does so, it degrades into toxic materials that harm the Earth even more than the plastic’s original form did.

People may think that nature is beautiful and untouched, but whatever pictures of nature that they’re seeing off the internet are probably too good to be true. Every single place in the world is touched by some form of pollution, whether it is air pollution or littering, but people don’t seem to be taking much of an initiative to prevent further harm to the environment. There have been efforts to put a tax on plastic bags in grocery stores, but we need more drastic changes to occur if we were going to save the world from excessive plastic. Plastic may be convenient because it can be used and thrown away, but consider where your plastic is going. Remember: matter cannot be created nor destroyed.

However, lucky for us, reusable plastic products have been invented! Sure, they are not free like plastic straws and bags, but they are well-worth the few bucks it takes to buy them. Not only do they reduce global plastic production, but they are not even a burden to carry around. Reusable straws and utensils typically come in small, flat containers that can fit into any bag that you happen to be carrying around. You may think that constantly washing your straws or utensils is a chore, but they are small and don’t take much time to wash, anyway. Reusable straws are even accompanied with a brush that can be used to scrub the inside of the straw. Reusable bags are usually available at your local grocery store, and are typically made from recycled materials. These bags are flexible and can be folded to be carried around, but they are durable, too.

Many plastic products usually come in dull and repetitive colors of whites, and blacks. In a society where people enjoy looking at attractive products, these reusable straws, bags, and utensils fit the bill. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you are sure to find something that appeals to your own style. I honestly think it is really cool to carry around your own reusable product – whatever it may be – than to use what everyone else is using.

So, in the end, when you’re out using something made out of non-recyclable plastic, stop and consider whether you could replace that item with something that is both appealing to look at and friendlier to the environment.