Plastic straws are increasingly widely used in our lives. However, this is one of the hard-to-decompose waste types. Simultaneously, the harmful effects of plastic straws to the environment are enormous, especially for marine ecosystems. This article will help you learn about the harmful effects of plastic straws and their incredible destructive ability on our green planet.
The reality of using plastic straws nowadays
Currently, plastic straws are classified as persistent waste, and are one of the waste types that have a serious impact on the ocean environment. As many as 8.3 billion plastic straws are found and are polluting the worldwide oceans according to the research results of Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law.
According to the published statistics about the harmful effects of plastic straws, the amount of plastic straws being used in daily life is extremely large:
Vietnam: Plastic straws are one of the 5 most common types of waste in Vietnam. They are mainly consumed at coffee chains, restaurants, beaches, sidewalk café, etc. Plastic straws contribute to 1.8 million tons of plastic waste generated each year in Vietnam, that is still increasing by 200% annually.
United States: Americans use 500 million plastic straws daily. – According to the National Park Service. On average, each American uses 1.6 plastic straws per day and about 38,000 plastic straws throughout their lives.
India: India is one of the countries that emit the most plastic into the environment with the amount of waste up to 26,000 tons every day, mainly straws and plastic bags. Currently, India is ranked 15th globally for plastic waste pollution.
The effects of plastic straws on human, animal and environmental health
Plastic straws are everywhere. Although they don’t take up too much space and are small in size, they have the potential to pollute the environment and be dangerous to human health if they are not recycled and disposed of properly. When entering keywords related to the harm of plastic straws on search engines surely you will receive countless results that will surprise you.
Impacts on human health
The ability to harm the users’ health of plastic straws which are made from standard plastic material is not considerable.
However, there are no organizations that control the quality of plastic straws. Therefore, many straw manufacturers, instead of using standard plastic, would use recycled plastic to produce plastic straws. Besides, many owners of coffee shops, milk tea shops, etc. would even reuse the used plastic straws for profit optimization. Specifically, after each sale, these straws will be collected, washed and put into containers for reuse. Customers can hardly recognize this practice. Inside the straws are hidden hundreds of types of bacteria that can cause several serious diseases.
Potential risk of cancer
Besides the key component of plastic, plastic straws also contain BPA (Bisphenol A), phthalates, … These chemicals help the straw increase durability. However, many scientific studies show that at high temperatures these chemicals can cause breast cancer, endocrine disorders, prostate cancer, slow cognitive development,… and even cause infertility.
Increase the chance of infection
Plastic straws are manufactured from recycled plastics, which can still contain many types of bacteria, germs, etc., causing many serious diseases if used in a long time.
Plastic straws can injure children without adult supervision. In the United States, over 1,400 cases of hospitalization each year because of plastic straws are children under 12 years old. In addition, poor quality plastic straws can damage the digestive system, liver and become a cause of premature puberty in children.
Harm to animals
Because of its small size, many animals easily mistake a disposable plastic straw for food. With the cylindrical shape, plastic straws can cause suffocation and death for animals.
According to the statistics of One Less Straw organization, millions of species of sea animals and birds die each year for ingestion of disposable plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags, etc.
While the plastic bags are the most common thing found in the body of sea turtles, plastic straws are the second one. Not long ago, two marine biologists published a short video of what plastic straws did to a sea turtle. This sea turtle got a plastic straw into its nose, causing suffocation, and it could have died at any time. After being cured, a 12 cm long straw was removed. The turtle’s nose was bleeding and looked very painful.
Even though disposable plastic straws are so fragile and small, their harm to animals is immense.
Harm to the environment
Similar to other products made from plastic, plastic straws take from 100 to 500 years to decompose in the natural environment, causing serious environmental pollution.
When plastic straws come into the soil, they will change the natural characteristics of the soil, making the plants develop more slowly and further weakening the ecosystem.
When coming into sewers, ponds, ditches, etc, plastic straws will clog the flow, causing flooding when it rains cats and dogs. Creating favorable conditions for disease-causing animals to develop. For example, the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are the major cause of viral hemorrhagic fever.
When entering the ocean, plastic straws will destroy the habitat of marine life. They cause many creatures to die due to mistaking plastic straws as food.
Some alternatives to plastic straws which help protect the environment
With the serious harms that disposable plastic straws cause to humans and the ecosystem, several cities and countries around the globe have started banning plastic straws. New York City, Seattle, Miami Beach, Vancouver, Hawaii, California, United Kingdom, Scotland and Taiwan have started acting and upcoming is France. To minimize the amount of plastic straws consumed and released into the environment, you do not need to take lofty actions. You just need to perform these following simple measures.
Only use a straw when absolutely necessary
In fact, there are a variety of cases in which you can use a spoon or drink a beverage directly instead of using a straw.
Therefore, the best way to reduce the amount of straws consumed each day is to not abuse them. And only use drinking straws when absolutely necessary.
When drinking at a café, you may refuse to use a plastic straw. Instead, you can enjoy your beverage by drinking it directly. This action seems small, but it will gradually bring significant benefits to our environment, ecosystems and health.
Using reusable straws
In this day and age, there are many types of environment-friendly straws on the market, such as bamboo straws, stainless steel straws, wooden straws, glass straws, … You can reuse these straw types many times to help reduce the consumption of plastic straws.
These types of straws are heat resistant, safe for the users’ health, … But need to be properly cleaned after each use with specialized tools.
Besides, these straws are very hard and dangerous if children play with them. Therefore, you should limit and supervise children when using these types of straws.
You can easily check the cleanliness of the straw when using a glass straw. However, this type of straw is very fragile and dangerous. It requires you to pay attention when using and must be careful in storage.
Using eco-friendly biodegradable rice straws Xanh Vietnam
Disposable plastic straws take a long time to decompose, sometimes over 100 years, and are difficult to recycle. To limit the use of plastic straws, you can consider our alternatives that are eco-friendly biodegradable straws from Xanh Vietnam.
Rice straws from Xanh Vietnam are made from 100% natural materials such as whole grain rice and tapioca flour from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Our products are totally eco-friendly for the environment and can completely replace the traditional plastic straws. All stages of our production process are certified by prestigious international benchmarks: HACCP and ISO 22000 – 2018.
We are committed to delivering rice drinking straws of highest quality:
✔️ Safe for users’ health.
✔️ Stay in shape for over 2 hours of use in water.
✔️ Do not affect the taste of the drinks.
✔️ Up to 18 months of storage time under normal conditions.
✔️ Totally eco-friendly and biodegradable within 90 days.
In addition, Xanh Vietnam also provides OEM service, so that customers can choose the processing specifications and packaging designs as required to create their very own rice straw products which transmit the brand message to everyone.
The impact of plastic straws on the environment is enormous. Therefore, you should use environmentally friendly straws such as biodegradable rice straws Xanh Vietnam to make our planet greener.
Reference sources: sas.org.uk, onelessstraw.org, ipsos.com, timesofindia.indiatimes.com, nationalgeographic.com, boston.com, sciencedirect.com và plasticpollutioncoalition.org