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The Last Straw: The Environmental Impact of Straw-free Living

Plastic does not biodegrade. That means if you throw a candy wrapper on the ground, it’s staying there longer than you’ll be alive. It can take up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose, therefore every bit of plastic made and thrown away adds to the problem. It’s hard to live a luxurious life on a planet covered in trash. Here are some of the impacts of plastic, and how you can thrive with less of it. 

Plastic overconsumption isn’t fun for anyone. It damages farming soil and poisons groundwater, which results in poor public health. The plastic in our environment also has a detrimental effect on animals. Every minute of every day a truckload of plastic is dumped into the ocean. Plastic abundance in the ocean can trap and choke marine life, killing, 100,000 animals each year. 

Unfortunately, only 9% of all plastic produced is recycled. Often plastic products are single-use. Straws, plastic bags, and Styrofoam packages are not recyclable, and even jam recycling machines. They're likely to end up in a landfill, the ocean, or blown away into nature. Two million plastic shopping bags are used every minute worldwide, and there is no undoing that environmental impact. 

Even if we recycle it, the production itself of plastic products is damaging. Plastic is made from burning fossil fuels and according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, it was responsible for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. These emissions cover the earth and trap heat from the sun, leading to global warming. 

 So, what can we do? The key to reducing plastic damage is to reuse, reuse, reuse. Try to avoid single-waste plastics like bags, bottles, straws, and utensils as much as possible, swapping them out for reusable versions. You can also support brands that use eco-friendly or reusable packaging for their products, including paper, glass, or compostable plastics.  

Not only are reusable straws and bags totally chic, but their positive impact is palpable. In Hong Kong, a campaign to end plastic straws resulted in a 7.1 billion reduction in use and a  40% drop in annual plastic straw consumption. By choosing reusable straws and encouraging friends to do the same, we could greatly reduce ocean landfills and harm to marine life.  

The reusable straw movement is more than just a movement. It represents a shift in global values. First, we choose reusable straws. Doing so displays that working together to make small changes can keep the earth cleaner. This encourages civilians and lawmakers to keep putting in the work and making sacrifices for the planet. 

Try out some reusable bags next time you go shopping, or sip your tea with a cute metal straw. You’ll look great, and you can feel great about the positive effect you’ll have on the earth. 


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