Picture this: You order a drink at a bar or a restaurant and with the drink comes a plastic straw. Sound familiar?
Well, have you ever thought about what happens to that plastic straw once you’re done using it? It’s plastic, so it probably gets recycled, right? Turns out though, that almost no plastic straws get recycled. They land up in a dustbin and from there find themselves rotting in our landfills or contaminating our oceans and waterways.
Refusing to use a plastic straw is probably one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest ways to make an impact and help preserve our environment. All the plastic straws you’ve used so far in your life will exist long after you’re gone. Most people use a plastic straw for about 20 minutes on average. The amount of time one uses a plastic straw for versus the amount of time it takes for a single straw to biodegrade is ridiculous. That 20 minutes of convenience is just not worth the damage it creates.
When I decided to transition to a low waste lifestyle, I realised that refusing to use a plastic straw is one of the easiest shifts in behaviour I could make. Think about it, do you really need a straw? Not really, unless you have some kind of handicap that makes drinking through a straw easier. Either way, there are tons of alternatives available today that can help you replace the plastic straw.
What are the alternatives you ask?
Steel straws, bamboo straws, paper straws or better yet, no straw!
You can find these alternatives online on Amazon, or you can even buy them from companies such as Bare Necessities, Suckin Eco Straws or Pappco Greenware.
These alternatives are reusable, look classy and are super cost effective as well. What’s more? They’ll help you divert a whole lot of single-use plastic from our landfills and oceans.
Tips to help you stop sucking!
Don’t be shy. The next time you’re at a restaurant or bar just request your server not to give you a straw with your drink. If they look confused or don’t understand your request take a minute and tell them how you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic you use and trash you generate. Most people tend to understand and pay heed to your request.
Remember to take your straw with you whenever you leave the house just like you would your wallet and house keys. Don’t fret if you forget it though. Just pucker up those beautiful lips of yours and drink straight from the glass. I promise it won’t kill you :)
If you’re going to order your steel/bamboo/paper straw online then request the company you’re ordering it from to send it to you plastic free. Suggest they send it to you in a cloth or paper bag perhaps or straight in the box. Amazon is also now listening to customers who request products to be shipped in minimal packaging. Just make sure to call them though after you place your order and put in your request.
Sterilise your straw before you use it for the first time. Care for this new buddy of yours and make sure to wash it after every use :)
Trash happens sometimes so don’t panic if you happen to be given a straw in your beverage despite your request. Simply bring the straw home and think of a creative way to use it. I personally use any plastic straws I happen to receive to string my necklaces or any wires through in an effort to keep detangled. It works pretty well.
I tend to carry my steel straw with me wherever I go and if for some reason I forget to do so I then just make do without a straw. It really isn’t that hard. It’s a matter of changing a specific behaviour that you’ve been habituated to for most of your life. The thing about behaviour and habits though is that they can be changed and improved over time with a little bit of persistence and consistency.
We've all seen pictures on Facebook and Instagram of turtles, whales and a whole range of sea animals dying and choking on plastic. You refusing to use a plastic straw will help ensure that this sight does not become commonplace.
I urge you to stop complaining about pollution and to start making some changes to the way you live and operate. They say charity begins at home, well, I'd say this theory applies to pollution reduction too.
So, take your first step towards adopting a low waste lifestyle. It requires almost no effort but will help create a HUGE impact.
Refuse the straw today and stop sucking!