Why I Ditched Plastic Straws and You Should Too

BY ON March 15, 2017

Colorful plastic straws

Of the many important reasons why you should give up plastic straws, should wrinkles be one of them?

According to skin-care expert, Renée Rouleau, if you want to avoid getting wrinkles around your mouth, you need to skip straws. Evidently, the sipping action breaks down the skin’s collagen and elasticity. The result? Wrinkly “smoker’s lines” around your lips. Yuck.

Even without anti-aging mania, I’ve been on something of a personal rampage against plastic straws. One thing that bugs me about plastic straws is how wasteful they are. Whether I’m sitting in a four-star restaurant, a diner or a dive, my glass of water usually comes served with a straw. My martini doesn’t come with a straw. No one would think of handing me a straw with my beer. But water? Or soda? The server doesn’t even ask.

This boiled to a head for me a couple of weeks ago. I was in a snazzy new eatery in snazzy Bethesda, MD and ordered an appetizer and a drink. The server showed up with glasses of water that already had straws in them. I was annoyed. I guess I should have immediately said “No straw, please,” when I ordered, but I forgot. So there it sat in my glass, a stupid plastic straw.

Shortly thereafter, the owner of the restaurant dropped by my table to say hello and ask how we liked his place. Before anyone could say anything, I said, “So far, not so good. Why are you serving drinking straws? Do you know what chemicals are in plastic? And that it’s going to take 10,000 years for this one straw to break down? And how much micro pollution is in the ocean? And…and…”

Yes, I was ranting. But I made my point that the menu brags about how sustainable the food is, but if he really wanted to run an environmentally responsible establishment, he needed to stop automatically handing out straws.

On the spot, he promised to do so.

Girl drinking out of a plastic straw

Ditch Single-Use Plastic Straws (Tweet this)

I sure wish it was that easy to eradicate straws globally. Ecocycle reports that 500 million straws are used in the U.S. daily. That’s enough to fill over 127 school buses each day, more than 46,400 buses every year. If we don’t stop using straws, Ecocycle projects that every American will use approximately 38,000 or more straws between the ages of 5 and 65. Mind boggling!

Even when you think a straw is being thrown “away,” there are good chances the straw will end up as roadside litter or disintegrate into tiny pieces called microplastic that eventually find their way into our rivers, lakes, seas and bodies. In fact, microplastic pollution is becoming one of the most insidious forms of ocean contamination we’re trying to eradicate, as Moms Clean Air Force has reported on in depth.

Manufacturing plastic also pollutes the air. Notes plastic-free activist Beth Terry, most plastic is made from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. The toxic emissions from using these fuels can include benzene, toluene, xylene, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds that “affect the health of everyone within breathing distance.”

Plastic straws are useless to me and to most people. I never use straws at home, so avoiding them when I’m out is the key for me to stop using them completely. I try to remember to tell servers in restaurants to skip the straw as soon as they offer to bring me water. I am making it a habit to encourage any restaurant I patronize to ask their customers if they want a straw before automatically bringing one. I’m also letting straw-lovers know that there are several eco-friendly options to choose from.

The best is a reusable straw. LifeWithoutPlastic.com sells straws made from bamboo, glass, and stainless steel that come with their own convenient carrying cases so you can keep them in your purse, backpack, or brief case without worrying they’ll break.

It’s probably too late for me to worry about wrinkles, but at least I can take the No Straw Please Pledge organized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition and the Last Plastic Straw campaign. You can join me here.

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TOPICS: Food, Pollution, Toxics