Summer in Hampton Roads means it’s “90 degrees in the shade” and time for lazing by the pool, playing at the beach and cooling off with a refreshing beverage. Before you even think about popping that plastic straw into your ice-cold drink, just chill out and consider this: U.S. consumers use approximately 500 million plastic straws in a single day. And guess what? They are not recyclable.
Even when tossed in the trash, straws can still make their way into our waterways where they can do a real number on seabirds, turtles, fish, reptiles and other creatures that think they’re a tasty snack. You may have seen a video circulating on Facebook, showing biologists removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril. It’s painful to watch, but a bracing reminder that the single use plastics you use don’t really go “away.”
Between the waste and the potential harm, why bother with a straw at all? Americans were just fine sipping their drinks from a glass until Marvin C. Stone came along in 1888 and patented a paper straw so he could enjoy his mint juleps.
So what can thirsty folks do?
- When your server takes your order, just say, “no straw, please.”
- BYOS. Buy a dishwasher-safe, reusable straw to use at home and in places where sipping occurs.
- Ask managers at food places you frequent if they will consider using straws made of plant-based materials, like paper or bamboo.
- Just do without. Go strawless! And enjoy your drink without all the fuss.