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Reduce, Reuse, Resuck: Getting Rid of the Plastic Straw.

reusable straws

Biodegradable and reusable straws may be coming soon to a restaurant near you – maybe even yours.

In July of 2018, Seattle will ban all single use plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and coffee shops. Similar initiatives are gaining momentum around the United States as various organizations are raising awareness about plastic pollution and its devastating affects on marine life. Many have pointed out that it’s only a matter of time before marine pollution will affect the food chain and the ocean life we rely on for sustenance and livelihood. Many of Seattle’s food service businesses will turn to biodegradable and reusable straws once the ban goes into effect.

One of the simplest ways to keep plastic from harming fish and other sea life is to reduce our use.  Skipping the straw, or finding a sustainable alternative, is an easy place to start.

Americans use roughly 500 million straws (about 1.6 straws per person) per day. That is roughly 46,400 large school busses full of these sucky things per year.

While many straws go to landfills, others end up in the ocean. Once plastic is exposed to sunlight it begins to break down into smaller and smaller pieces but it never completely biodegrades. Eventually, all those pieces of plastic straw end up in our lovely sea salt and in the bodies of marine life. Recent studies show that 93% of Americans, ages 6 and older, test positive for the plastic chemical BPA. We are just beginning to comprehend the impact of plastic on human health.

Luckily, there are alternatives to the plastic straw. A handful of innovative companies already offer biodegradable and reusable straws. These alternatives are made from various sustainable materials. Some examples are: Hearty paper by Aardvark Straws, stainless steel by U Konserve, straws made from straw by Straw by Straw, bamboo by Brush with Bamboo, and a seaweed material by Loliware. Other companies are offering compostable straws that may or may not be accepted by municipal composting programs. The last and most simple option is to sip, not suck – leaving the straw out of the equation completely.

Already, there are concerned restaurants leading the charge to ban the plastic straw in their dining rooms. Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon and Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River have chosen to omit straws from their drinks. If a customer is flummoxed by the task of tilting and sipping from their glass, they may request a straw without being overtly shamed.  Everybody’s Brewing and Double Mountain are both thriving and customers do not appear distressed by the lack of straws in their refreshments. Besides, it’s the drink that matters most.

In Seattle, many places have already made the switch, including Century Link Field and Safeco Field. With so many alternatives of the market, going “Strawless in Seattle” will be an easy way to reduce the amount of plastic waste going into the oceans – and into our food.

Indra Bloemers

Indra is a gardener, mother, world traveler, nurse, fourth generation Oregonian and lover of wholesome local food.

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