The Effects Plastics Have On Our Earth

For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed slurping a refreshing beverage through a cylindrical tube. 

If Marvin Stone (the inventor of the first paper straw in 1888) were alive today, he might be shocked to know of the five large areas of the ocean, called gyres, where plastic garbage collects. The sea’s currents create vortexes trapping plastics, and in the collection are plastic drinking straws.

Straws and other plastics cause harm to marine life in many ways. Birds, fish, and other sea life consume plastics accidentally or when they mistakeit for food.

Plastics don’t biodegrade. They break down into smaller and finer, microscopic pieces.

When plastics break down, they produce bisphenol A (BPA) which interferes with reproductive systems in marine life. It also produces styrene monomer which is a suspected carcinogen.

How Can You Do Your Part?

  • For most of us, the easiest way is to pick up the glass and tip it back as our parents taught us to do when we were four or five. It may take some practice and maybe both hands.
  • There are other fun, eco-friendly, healthy options for straws, too. Try these:
    • Bamboo straws are renewable, reusable, and biodegradable.
    • Paper straws, while still disposable, are biodegradable and from a renewable source.
    • Glass straws are coming in durable, colorful designs fit for a variety of beverages.
    • Stainless steel straws are an option for those of us who like our cold drinks really cold!
  • Volunteer to help clean up your local beaches, parks, or neighborhoods. Take note of how many straws are included in all the litter.
  • Plan ahead. Do you frequent fast-food restaurants or get beverages to go? You will often receive the straw before you have the chance to say no. Be prepared when you order to request your drink without a straw.



Article Citation: 

Miriam Meagher