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There’s a lot of talk these days about plastic pollution. Why? After all, what will a few plastic bottles do to the environment, really? Well, if millions of people think the same thing, that adds up to several millions of plastic bottles. At that level, it’s not a theoretical problem to be dealt with in the distant future; it’s a reality.

plastic waste

Plastic pollution is a real environmental concern and its seriousness can be seen in the piles of plastic trash quickly accumulating in oceans, coastlines, and landfills. In fact, 11 million tons are tossed into the ocean each year. And how’s this for irony? A lot of this plastic waste ultimately ends up being eaten by fish and other sea animals, some of which may very well make their way onto your dinner table!

regulating plastic straws

Governments and restaurants have taken note, and they’re tackling the issue by restricting plastic items. A big one? The plastic straw. Some cities have enacted regulations banning plastic straws. So, people will most likely be drinking soda with a paper straw, or perhaps a biodegradable or compostable one. Or, there may not be straws at all; just cups with sip lids instead.

phasing out plastic

Some restaurants have voluntarily decided to phase out plastic straws, even if they’re not legally obligated, because they want to discourage the use of plastic. They might make them available only upon request, or simply switch over completely to paper. Whole Foods Market has eliminated plastic straws at its coffee bar, as have coffee shops like Starbucks and Peet’s. Another option you may see at restaurants is reusable metal straws.

what next?

Plastic is pretty indestructible, and the straw used for 15 minutes will last for a hundred years. It isn’t biodegradable, and in water, it will never disintegrate and melt away. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, permanently overtaking the ocean.

So, it’s important to think about the environmental impact of single-use disposable plastic. You can choose to go without. Or, bring a portable metal straw out with you; an increasing number of stores are selling them. There are already other regulations targeting plastic bags and plastic utensils, and likely to be more on the horizon. Watch this space!

Sources: Pew Charitable Trusts


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