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Why paper straws?


 


WITH OVER 8 MILLION TONNES OF THE STUFF ENTERING THE OCEANS EVERY YEAR, IT'S NO SECRET THAT PLASTIC CERTAINLY IS NOT FANTASTIC. HOWEVER, SOME PLASTIC ITEMS ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS.

Single-use plastic is a particularly nasty form of plastic. These items have a shockingly short lifespan, normally used once and then discarded to landfill. Like other plastics, they never biodegrade and take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic straws are one such single-use item, and are ending up in our oceans by the thousands.

Plastic straws made the 'top ten' items picked up on beach clean ups, and it's not hard to see why. Avid scuba diver Kasey Turner was snorkeling after work recently at a popular dive site in Manly, Australia. In the area she found 319 straws on a single 20-minute snorkel. 24 hours later Kasey went back and did another and found 294 in the exact same place.

Why are straws so damaging to the marine environment?

Disposable straws are usually made from plastic and plastic never breaks down. As time goes by plastic will separate into smaller and smaller pieces, but never completely biodegrades.

In USA alone, 500 million straws are used every single day. We use straws for around twenty minutes before we toss them away, which is an astonishingly quick lifespan for an item that will be on the planet forever. Straws also contain BPA, and can't be recycled.

It can be hard to see how using one measly plastic straw is going to cause huge amounts of damage to the environment, but let me put in to context for you. Recently a team of scientists in Costa Rica came across an endangered species of sea turtle with what they thought was a parasitic worm blocking its airway. They realised it was actually a plastic straw. Hours from veterinary help, the scientists successfully dislodged the straw themselves and released the turtle back into the ocean. The team filmed their efforts, and you can watch the grim ordeal below.