The Last Straw

Almost everyone will take up the opportunity of a straw when offered one, but how many people actually know the detrimental effects that plastic straws have on our planet?

Just within the U.S. alone, roughly 500 million straws are used each day. Many of those straws are made from what we know as “Styrofoam” and can take up to 200 years to degrade. Even then, they will never be completely destroyed as plastic straws do not biodegrade, therefore, tiny and invisible pieces of those straws will continue to remain on Earth forever.

You might be thinking, “What’s so bad about straws remaining on Earth? They’re so small.” Well, while it is true that straws are relatively small, imagine 500 million of them being disposed in landfill each day and floating on the ocean over the years. Even at a relatively small college campus like Furman University in South Carolina, 22,000 straws were being used each month—a fraction of the 500 million plastic straws used in America daily. But that is before the executive director of Furman’s Sustainability center began his movement of replacing plastic straws with paper ones.

Another devastating statistic regarding plastic use: 1 million seabirds and marine animals die each year from consuming plastics that are constantly being disposed of by us humans.

It’s time to take responsibility and raise awareness about the harmful effects of these single-use straws. Below are 2 easy steps that you can take to make this change happen:

  • REFUSE! This is another R that you should apply to your daily life on top of the other 3 that you should have already been practicing. Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Recycle. Being a college student, it can be hard to eat at home every day because that requires cooking, so that calls for nights of eating out, to which will make you feel the need to order a drink, or ask for a water cup for all that matters. In those cases, it can be tempting to not grab a straw with your drink/water cup as it’s right there, ready and available to grab. However, now that you are aware of the dangerous effects of plastic straws, it should definitely be easier to refuse them in the future.
  • Invest in reusable straws: The go-to for reusable straws are stainless steel ones. These are good investments as they are reusable and easy to clean, as well as sophisticated-looking. The up-front cost of these can sound like a lot, and it’s understandable that being a college student, you want to try and save any penny that you can. However, the long-term value of these environmentally-friendly straws are definitely worth investing. You can buy a pack of 8 stainless steel straws along with 2 cleaning brushes and a carry bag for less than $10.00 on Amazon. You can also buy this as a gift for your friend who drinks Starbucks every day yet refuses to invest in a reusable cup and straw.

*The fact stands that plastic straws are harmful for the environment. However, we should also take into accounts of their convenient existence for people with disabilities. One of the main issues that poses for disabled people with using straws made out of materials other than plastic is that they are neither safe or flexible enough. According to an article regarding plastic straws ban on CNN, those with jitters have a hard time using metal straws as they are too hard and can be painful, and paper straws dissolve when comes in contact with water, so that leaves plastic straws as the last man standing.

In this case, the above refuse and reuse method should not be applied. It is incredibly important to be environmentally responsible but it’s also important to recognize the needs of those around you. The long-term goal is to have an ecologically balanced environment without having to sacrifice the needs of individuals with disabilities.

GradGuard prides themselves on being as eco-friendly as possible! From daily recycling to being a paperless company, we do whatever we can to help the environment. If you are wanting an insurance company that cares about you AND the world around you, consider getting insured by GradGuard today!