Plastics have amazingly useful properties such as being lightweight, flexible, moisture temperature chemical resistant, durable and relatively inexpensive. While it comes in handy, plastics actually cause more harm than good when it comes to our health and planet. But all of this can be easily avoided in everyday life.
February 26 is National Skip the Straw Day, an event held the fourth Friday of every February to raise awareness about how many straws end up as litter and how these straws ultimately affect our environment.
How Exactly Is Plastic Made?
Plastic has infiltrated our lives from every angle, but many people don’t know what it is or where it came from.
It all starts with raw materials, such as natural gas, oil or plants, refined into ethane and propane. Ethane and propane are treated with high heat, in a process known as cracking. This is how they’re converted into monomers such as ethylene and propylene.
The monomers ethylene and propylene are combined with a catalyst to create a polymer “fluff,” which looks like powdered laundry detergent. The polymer is fed into an extruder, where it is melted and fed into a pipe.
The plastic forms a long tube as it cools and cut into small pellets. These pellets are then shipped to factories, where they will be melted and molded into water bottles, food packaging, auto parts, medical devices and much more.
The Problem with Plastic Straws
People in the United States use millions of single-use plastic straws every day.
Plastic straws are one of the most widely used, and therefore disposed of, plastic products. Many types of straws cannot be reused or recycled due to the chemicals they are made from. Most plastic straws are also not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally.
Straws wind up in our waterways, and ultimately the oceans, due to littering and wind that carries the straws from trash cans and trash collection facilities, as well as boats and aquatic transport vehicles. It’s estimated that 437 million to 8.3 billion million plastic straws can be found along the world’s coastlines.
The world is now struggling to recover from its plastic pollution problem.
Over the past few years, several businesses and organizations have taken steps to ban plastic straws in order to protect the environment, as have a number of cities and countries around the globe, including New York City, Seattle, Vancouver, California, Great Britain and Taiwan.
As a result of this ban, many people have opted for reusable straws such as stainless steel and glass, and biodegradable paper alternatives.
If you’re looking to dip your feet into the world of living plastic-free, start by making small changes such as switching from plastic water bottles to something like the NAYAD Tumbler. This reusable tumbler is made from BPA-free, stainless steel material that can withstand years of use. It comes with a reusable straw that makes sipping on the go easy and you won’t have to worry about polluting our oceans with single-use plastic straws.
It’s important that we cut down on our plastic consumption, not only to protect ourselves but also to protect future generations. So remember to skip the straw and save our planet.