The Effects of Single Use Plastic Straws and How Using Reusable Straws Helps the Environment

Colorful Single Use Plastic Straws

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The Effects of Single-Use Plastic Straws and Their Effects on our Environment

 

To Start out here are some Cold Hard Facts about Single-Use Plastic Straws

  • Plastic straws are almost always used once for about 15 minutes before being disposed of.
  • Single-Use Plastic straws are, lightweight, made from Polypropylene, a material that isn’t easily recycled and degrades slowly.
  • Plastic straws have become something of the poster child of this environmental problem. (alongside reusable plastic bags).
  • Every year we go through a staggering 25.3 billion single-use plastic straws in Europe. And in the US we use 500 million single-use plastic straws a day.
  • Where does all this plastic go? A leading scientific study notes that of the 8.3 billion metrics tons of plastic ever produced only 9% has been recycled
  • What happened to the rest? 12% is incinerated. The majority at 79% ends up in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
  • A massive 8 million tons of plastic (straws and more) enters our oceans each year
  • Major rivers around the world carry an estimated 1.15 – 2.41 million tons of plastic into the sea every year.
  • By the Year 2050, the amount of Single-Use Plastic Waste in the world’s oceans could out number the amount of fish.
  • Marine debris, three-quarters of which is plastic, is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and costing economies millions.

Are Plastic Straws Biodegradable?

Unfortunately for the environment single-use plastic straws do not naturally biodegrade and decay in a harmful way. This is a key factor affecting the environmental impact of plastic straws on marine life and our oceans. They do however degrade over time. Which means plastic straws break down into smaller particles. The resulting particles are named microplastics.

Plastic Straws degrade slowly. In fact they can take up to 200 years to breakdown.  Microplastics never leave our oceans.  They are very small pieces making them almost impossible to clean up.

Microplastics
Microplastics Found in our oceans.  Photo Credit Oregon State University on Flick by SA 2.0

Now Imagine this, You arrive at the beach for a day in the sun and surf and having to wade thru massive amounts of Single-Use Plastic Waste.

In many countries today this is a Normal Occurrence.

Plastic Waste on beach
Plastic Waste Washed up on Beach Photo Credit: Adege on Pixabay

Does Plastic Waste harm Marine Life

The answer is Yes.  The University of Georgia, collected 96 baby turtles from beaches around Florida. Published Findings noted that all of the turtles in the study had ingested plastic. Sadly around half of the turtles died. The team suspects that cause of death was a result of the plastic in their systems.

What Can You Do To Reduce The Impact of Single-Use Plastic Straws?

Is there an answer? The Marine Conservation Society notes that the best solution to mitigate the environmental impact of plastic straws is preventing them from even entering our Oceans. Simple and clear.

You can Start By Taking Action

Each of us can make a difference every day.

  • SAY NO! to Single Use Plastic Straws.
  • Chose to use Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Plastic Straws and other Single Use Plastics.
  • You can ask for Non-Plastic Straws when eating out.
  • Why Not Buy a Set of Reusable Stainless Steel Straws Here. Go to the RURALOSITY Store while your here and Buy a Set today.

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