Suck It Up

 

The Banning of Plastic Straws

Recently, environmentalists have been pushing major companies to rid their stores of plastic straws. Yet, there are other issues stemming from the banning of straws.

The hot debate was thrusted into the light once the coffee tycoon, Starbucks, announced it was going to be removing single-use straws from their locations after a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral. The video struck a nerve in many environmentalists, and soon the movement to ban plastic straws was born. After Starbucks stuck their foot out, smaller companies began to follow.

It is evident that any non-recyclable products used damage the environment, but is the banning of plastic straws really in Earth's favor? While outlawing plastic straws gets rid of one problem, it presents a whole new one. Replacing straws means that coffee shops would need to find an alternative sipping method.

Many have already turned to Starbucks' idea: using plastic lids. Does anyone else see the problem here? If the goal is to get rid of plastic, why substitute it with more plastic?

Eliminating plastic straws only solves a small percentage of the world's plastic pollution problem, especially when there are bigger pollutants that affect more life in the sea.

The intentions of this ban are coming from the right place but lack thorough planning. There are alternative solutions that food vendors could use in order to save the environment.

It is possible for customers to carry their own reusable straws, but let's face it: it's not very convenient. When convenience is what sells, this is not a good tactical business move. Instead, these companies can offer recyclable paper straws. This still gives the public the chance to use straws, while still taking the environment into consideration.

Some businesses have already adopted the use of paper straws, such as Lake Tahoe's very own Riva Grill. Throughout the restaurant you can spot these straws sticking out of their signature ìWet Woodies.î

Banning plastic straws barely minimizes the pollution in the environment, yet it harshly affects society. There are people with motor function disabilities who cannot drink without the aid of straws. The removal of plastic straws isolates these people from everyday events, like going out to lunch. Both causes are valid, but one should not overrule the other.

Society should not be arguing over whether the environment or people with disabilities are more important. Instead of bickering over one solution, there should be a movement to find something that is inclusive of both parties.

It's true that plastic straws do contribute to the planet's pollution, but according to Get Green Now, they are only the seventh most found trash in our ocean. This means there are six other types of trash in the ocean that we could be focusing on, such as cigarettes, food wrappers, plastic bottles, bottle caps, grocery bags, and other plastic bags.

One of the main pollutants that society should be focusing on are "ghost nets." This is fishing gear that has been left in the ocean due to misuse of safety procedures and what causes so much harm to our ocean wildlife. Yet, corporations tend to latch onto smaller issues, such as plastic straws.

The mortality rate of sea creatures could be drastically decreased if efforts were more focused on bigger pollutants, like these "ghost nets." While plastic straws are unarguably bad for our ecosystems, there are still bigger fish to fry.

The fight for cleaner environments is an ongoing battle. Yet, the war will not be won until the bigger battles have been won. The fight over plastic straws now has a backbone, all it needs now is muscle to go with it. Once a solution is found that can benefit everyone, nature and mankind alike, is when the battle will truly be won