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Plastic vs. Paper Straws

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Have you ever gone to Starbucks and gotten a plastic straw from the container of straws? Well because of plastic straws, America’s beaches are lined with 7.5 billion plastic straws. And after a video of people pulling a straw out of a turtle’s nose went viral, it caused a lot of people to take action to get rid of plastic straws and use paper straws instead.

Although plastic straws are not the biggest plastic pollutants, they are the most likely to leave our waste management containers. Plastic straws are hollow, and weigh only 0.42 of a gram. Have you ever seen the garbage men haul your garbage into the back of their truck?  Well, as they’re doing that a small fraction of that garbage falls out, and plastic straws are the most likely to become airborne.

When you walk around New York and see all the garbage cans, you probably don’t notice a straw lying underneath it where somebody mistakenly missed the garbage can. Well plastic straws are probably left on the sticky parts of the sidewalk and eventually get blown away or carried away by rain water.

Plastic straws are also mistaken for being recyclable. Well, yes they are plastic but we should throw them away in our regular garbage can or not use them at all.. Americans use 500 million straws every day! Thirty five million tons of plastic straws are being produced around the globe every year and a quarter of that gets thrown into the ocean.  

Animals mistake the plastic straws for food so they eat them and will most likely die unless someone saves them. Plastic in the ocean is harmful in many forms. About 100,000 marine creatures die of plastic entanglement each year. Approximately one million seabirds die that we know from plastic. Plastic bags can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate.

A plastic straw takes about 200 years to decompose. But paper straws take only a fraction of time that a plastic straw takes to decompose.  Although paper straws are good for the environment, they cost about ten times as much as a plastic straw. Also a paper straw does get soggy from being in a drink too long but it’ll still do the trick.

So the next time you need to slurp your drink, take a minute to think about the sea life and try to choose paper over plastic!

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