Sustainable step – Say ‘no’ to plastic straws

You have likely seen an image of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. It is a graphic and confronting image designed to shock us into action.  

For me it worked. I love the water and am fascinated by most ocean creatures. The idea of a straw being stuck in the nasal cavity of any animal is very saddening, but especially a majestic and gentle turtle.  

Plastic straws are designed to be a single use item. Resources and energy go into making and transporting straws all over the world for us to use for a matter of minutes and then throw away. They then pollute the environment until they start breaking down into smaller and small plastic pieces eventually ending up as micro plastics.  

Rather than contribute to this cycle of waste, let’s say ‘no’ to plastic straws.

Next time you order a drink simply say “no straw please”.  

And while we’re at it we should also start declining other pointless beverage accessories like little umbrellas, swizzle sticks and little plastic jungle animals. Yes, I have actually seen cocktails adorned with little plastic jungle animals!  

While it would be easy to end things here and simply tell everyone to stop using plastic straw, there are some people who need to use straws or really like drinking certain drinks from straws. I still really like drinking my smoothy with a straw. This is where we can turn to sustainable straw options.  

I have metal straws at home which we use for smoothies and sometimes just for fun. They are durable so I can throw them in a bag and take them anywhere, and they are easy to clean with a small straw cleaner (think tiny bottle brush).  

But metal straws aren’t for everyone. Other reusable straw options are made from glass, bamboo or silicone. Silicone is a popular choice for people who require a soft or flexible straw. Paper straws are also becoming increasingly common, however they are still a single use item and generally aren’t recyclable.  

A range of new straw products are coming onto the market all the time. There are straws being made from a range of materials such as pasta and wheat. With all these new more sustainable options, I predict that plastic straws won’t exist at all in the future.

In the meantime let’s all remember to refuse plastic straws and sip our drinks from our cups or with a stylish reusable straw. Cheers!  

The Sustainable Steps series provides quick and easy tips about how to make more sustainable choices in your everyday life.

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