Straws are a very minuscule part of the plastic problem. The documentary Seaspiracy points out the 40% of ocean plastics comes from the fishing industry. Mostly nets and lines that they abandon in the water. Perhaps the time has come for our consumption of fish to decrease so as to lessen the need for fishing and it’s resultant destruction of marine life and the ocean ecosystems.
All plastics are a problem when they aren’t recycled. Straws are almost never recycled. The wind can easily transport them into the ocean.
…has some critics.
Thank you Dale for the updated information. Plastics or not fish eating has become minimized in our family
I don’t eat any fish. Or meat or any other animal products. You are right to be concerned with fish. By 2050 scientists predict that the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish!!!
All fish are not environmentally equal. There are lists of commercial fish that are considered as eco-friendly as compared to others. In some fish, the way how the fish are captured makes the difference. Hook/longline/handline/trap/cultivation may be considered ok while bottom trawls or comparable methods are not ok.
All ways of obtaining food have their weaknesses. It’s just choosing the ethically acceptable ways that fulfill the nutritional demands.
Good or bad, taste is also something that matters if you can afford being picky. What you are used to eat affects the preference of taste. After I reduced the use of red meat, I noticed that red meat stopped to taste as good as it used to. That was a surprise.
Most plastics are biodegradable over 100s of years. Styrofoam is more like millions.
Voluntary actions have not been sufficient to save the waters from plastics so we are moving towards limiting legislation.
Plastic shopping bags are banned in many places globally. EU is implementing a more strict legislation where single-use plastics that can be replaced by sustainable alternatives are banned from July 2021. This includes plastic straws, single-use beverage and food containers, single-use cups and many other single-use plastic products. The directive includes extended producer responsibility, tobacco industry and producers of fishing gear were lifted as examples of producers that should cover the costs of the awareness raising measures. Possibly also other costs.
My guestimate is that similar type of legislation will spread. The legislation will perhaps be less ambitious elsewhere but anyhow legislation limiting the production or use of single-use plastics.
I hope so. I’ve seen people make fun of California for banning plastic straws, but I hope that kind of legislation spreads. Of course, individual actions are not enough in the long run, but I think that people who are already voluntarily trying to make less wasteful choices will be more likely to vote in a way that supports that kind of environmental legislation.
My town and other towns in CT have banned plastic shopping bags. And my town dump lets you recycle plastic #1-7 and lots of other stuff.
People can also petition their towns to do more.
Unfortunately, paper bags may have a bigger effect on the environment as well, as they require more energy to produce. And reusable plastic bags have to be reused a dozen times before you break even with disposables.
Paper bags can be reused and then recycled with cardboard and newspaper. And they are biodegradable.
And reusable plastic bags can readily be used more than a dozen times. And you can also get cloth or nylon shopping bags.
All options have their weaknesses. I bought reusable cotton bags. Later, I read that you have to use them hundreds of times before their ecological footprint is equal to a plastic bag.
Reusable bags made of other materials may be eco-friendlier. I have jute bags that I like because they are sturdier and strong - no problems with loading the bags full with liquids. I like them, so I use them often, which reduces the ecological footprint.
Food stores here have also ordinary-looking plastic bags made of recycled plastics. Waste handling facilities have had technical problems with ‘biodegradable’ bags - thin bags jam the conveyor lines at waste separation facilities and ‘biodegradable’ bags don’t break down in a reasonable time unless you have optimal conditions. Therefore, the workers like the recycled bags more. When these bags cannot be recycled anymore, they are burned for energy. No plastic waste left after that.
Plastic bags can’t be recycled, for the reasons you mention. But my town banned them some time ago. Has your town done the same? I think any bag you reuse many, many times and dispose of properly is the way to go.
One more note about reusable shopping bags–we should keep them clean. I hear cashiers complaining about dirty bags that thoughtless customers bring in! Bags can also smell of tobacco smoke and/or mildew. So–clean up your act!
What is the proper way to dispose of a plastic bag? Or any bag that isn’t paper?
It looks like my state is set to ban them soon. I think it’s a move in the right direction, and I’ve been using reusable bags for almost my entire adult life. But I remember reading on NPR about a study that found that once plastic bags were banned, sales of small trash bags went way up because people had been reusing their plastic bags for small trash cans or to pick up after their dogs, and those tended to be thicker plastic. So one way or another, it seems we’re still pretty dependent on plastic bags.
Put it in the garbage or take it to the dump yourself.
We can choose to be responsible.