Plastic straws have been a popular topic this year. Particularly the bans of disposable plastic straws, since they tend to harm our oceans and environment. It is estimated, that around 500 million plastic straws are used daily in USA alone. Can you imagine how much plastic waste that produces? Well, that’s about 8,3 billion straws that pollute our seas and beaches annually. Think about every person on the planet going to the beach and dump one straw in the ocean (+ 0,7 billion more). That is a looot of straws.
But there has been some promising progress in the use of straws. Starbucks has already declared, that it tries to get rid of plastic straws by 2020, McDonald’s is about to ban them in their restaurants in Ireland and UK – even the city of Seattle has banned plastic straws! This progress is very positive from the view of our seas, oceans and beaches.
What comes around goes around
Have you ever wondered, how drinking straws were invented? Well good news! National Geographic has published a brief article regarding the birth of straw, and it is quite interesting. According to National Geographics’s article, the first straw users can be traced all the way to ancient Sumerians, 5000 years back. But the first person to patent a drinking straw was Marvin Stone in 1888. The legend says, that he got the idea in a hot summer day in 1880, while drinking a mint julep with a piece of rye grass. The rye grass disintegrated while drinking, and Stone decided he could do something better – and that’s how the first commercial drinking straw was born, made of paper though.
The age of plastic straws began in 1960s. Plastic was cheaper and more durable material to produce straws. And no one really considered the possible future impacts of mass producing plastic straws. Now many corporations and municipalities are considering new alternatives for plastic straws, but it’s easier said than done. Plastic is still a cheap material in production – cheaper than paper. On the other hand, you can’t really put a price tag on the health of our environment.
Anyhow, the use of plastic straws is taking a major shift towards new alternatives, and only time will tell are the bans going to work, and what kind of alternatives people innovate. Maybe bamboo straws? Or perhaps we move back to the paper straw era?
You can find National Geographic’s article here.