Trend forecaster alert: straws are the new plastic bags.
Research has shown that there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world's oceans by 2050, and as we look for ways to reduce landfill waste and ocean pollution, many see ending the use plastic straws as an easy way to make a big difference. Like many plastics, straws are rarely recycled, take many years to break down, and are dangerous to sea life. They have been found wedged in the nose of a sea turtle (the video is...eeeeek), littering the stomachs of countless dead marine animals, and scattered across beaches with tons of other plastics. They've even been called the "gateway drug" to pollution. Now, there's a growing movement to get rid of them.
This movement to ban plastic straws was actually started by a 9-year-old boy named Milo Cress in 2011 after he received a straw in a restaurant and realized he didn't need one. In fact, Americans use roughly half a billion straws in total EVERY SINGLE DAY (that's more than 1.5 a person!). That many straws could wrap around the Earth two and a half times. They could fill about 46,400 school buses each year! That's sooooooo many straws. All this when the average straw is only used for 20 minutes and can take more than 200 years to break down.
There are a growing number of organizations working on this issue. The Scotch Whisky Association and the makers of Absolut Vodka and Tanqueray Gin have announced plans to ban plastic straws and stirrers from their events. Celebrities have encouraged people to #StopSucking on social media. California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would outlaw servers' giving plastic straws by default, as have cities such as Malibu, Davis, San Luis Obispo, Fort Meyers, and Miami Beach. It's even gone global: Queen Elizabeth II has banned the use of plastic straws and plates at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
The switch to reusable straws is going to take some time since they cost more than plastic. John Sidanta, the CEO of a straw manufacture has said straws made from biodegradable plastic are currently five to six times more expensive than standard plastic products. Some localities are requiring the use of papers straws instead.