Why say no to plastic straws?

11 de February de 2019, por em Good practices, Sustainability
 Why say no to plastic straws?

Plastic was one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, it emerged as a versatile, revolutionary and practical material. However, due to its long decomposition time (over 400 years) and the excessive use we make of it, plastic has become a great villain for the environment and for the human being, especially when dealing with ephemeral plastics, those used only once and then discarded, as is the case with straw.

Banishing its consumption has become a trend in 2018. The global coffee network Starbucks, for example, has announced that by 2020 it will stop using plastic straws in its stores. A European Union regulatory scheme to ban disposable plastic products (straws, bags and dishes) has recently been adopted in Brussels and is expected to enter into force in two years.

But why the plastic straw?

You may be wondering: Why pay so much attention to plastic straws, if on a global scale they represent only 0.03% of the plastic waste present in the environment?

The choice is symbolic, and serves as a “gateway” to the discussion about the excessive use of plastic materials, especially ephemeral materials, such as straw, bags, cups, cutlery and plastic dishes. In addition, the straw is considered a dispensable item in people’s daily habits and can be easily taken out of circulation.

Therefore, the expectations of environmentalists and those who advocate banning the straw are to draw attention to the excessive use of this product and to the damage that ephemeral plastics cause to the environment and marine life.

Reality of the oceans

In 2016, the World Economic Forum released an article (The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the Future of Plastics) reporting the existence of 150 million tons of plastics in the oceans. But it is not to be frightened, after all, all plastic manufactured until today is still on our planet.

But the information does not stop there, in the same article, a study was made by the founder of the navigator Ellen MacArthur and consultancy McKinsey, stating that in 2014 the proportion of tons of fish plastics was one to five, in 2025 it will be one by three, and by 2050 it will exceed one by one, that is, by 2050 there will be more plastics in the oceans than marine life. Another study done in 2015 concluded that about 90% of seabirds have plastic in their bodies, and by 2050 that figure will reach 99%.

But cool, there are alternatives that can help change that scenario. In addition to avoiding the use, any of us may give preference to products whose raw material causes low environmental impact. In the case of plastic straws, they can be replaced by:

  1. Paper straw
  2. Glass cane
  3. Stainless steel straw
  4. Bamboo cane
  5. Silicone strap
  6. Pasta cane

Among so many alternatives and reasons for not using the plastic straw and reducing the use of plastic in your day to day, it is not possible that you will not adhere to this trend.

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