To straw or not to straw? It’s a question of life and death

To straw or not to straw? It’s a question of life and death

Every time I go to a restaurant or a coffee shop, I’m faced with a dilemma. Plastic straws. Do I make my life easier and just use one? After all, how can just one, tiny straw really do any damage. Right? Since I kept hearing about the plastic straw controversy, I decided to start doing some research on what the real effects of plastic straws are, and why they’re so bad.

First of all, plastic straws don’t get recycled. They’re too small and lightweight to be caught in the modern day recycling machines, so they get sorted into other small trash items and get piled up in landfills. Sadly, the plastic in straws doesn’t decompose or biodegrade; it stays in landfills for hundreds of years.

Actually, more straws end up in the ocean than in landfills. They are blown out of the trash, littered, or going into storm drains. When in the ocean, the straws break down into smaller pieces called “microplastics”. This is a big threat to marine life. The UGA New Materials Institute research project found that 100% of the baby sea turtles studied had eaten plastic, and were dying because of it. Also, by the year 2050, it’s predicted that there will be more straws in the ocean than fish.

The biggest way to help would be to find an alternative option for plastic straws. I now have metal reusable straws that I carry with me. It may be more work to use and clean, but I feel it’s worth it. There are even bamboo straws and biodegradable pasta straws! If you can, try to avoid using plastic straws. Even just one person can make all the difference.

Kili is a sophomore at Mountainside High School. She loves singing, playing piano and ukulele, and also running track and field.