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Understanding the Lifecycle of Plastic Straws

plastic straws

This month we are focusing our efforts on the impact of plastic straws on the environment. Daily, 500 million single-use straws are used in the United States alone, enough to fill 127 school buses. Understanding how plastic straws impact you is just as important as understanding the impact they have on the environment.

How plastic straws are made

Plastic straws are made from the petroleum bi-product polypropylene which does not biodegrade naturally in the environment. Colorants and plasticizers are added to the product in the factory. Then the oil-based product is usually individually wrapped in paper or plastic and then boxed to be shipped (using more petroleum) to their next destination, and then shipped again to their final destination.

Where do they go once used?

Plastic straws are not easily recycled. So what happens then? Some straws are incinerated, which adds toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Most straws go into landfills where they live forever since plastic isn’t biodegradable. When buried in the ground, straws leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

The rest end up floating into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean. There they find their way into gyers and are broken down into tiny bits and ingested by marine mammals and other sea life. It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and countless fish are killed by plastic pollution every year.

What can you do?

You don’t have to be an environmental crusader to save the Earth. In fact, it’s not just the ardent defenders of the environment who make the biggest impact. Millions of people acting in small ways can have a profound effect. What can you do? Start by refusing plastic straws, switching to reusable straws and raising awareness about the plastic straw problem by following our Switch the Straw campaign.

For the month of September, we are offering a FREE Straw Brush with every purchase of our reusable stainless steel straws. We have also created a Pinterest board with our favorite resources and facts on plastic straws. How are you switching the straw this month? Please share with us on social media and let us know how you’re raising awareness!