After you’re done with your plastic straw, what next? You probably throw the straw away, leave it in your bag, or take it along with you. However, no matter what you do with it, it will end up in the trash.
To everyone out there, the plastic straws in their drink seem harmless because they look small and, indeed, harmless. But are they harmless? Those tiny straws end up in a landfill and never decompose – and they never get recycled.
But why aren’t plastic straws recycled? Isn’t all plastic recyclable? These are the questions that most of you are asking yourselves right now. The majority of plastic straws are made from polypropylene plastic, which is marked with a number 5, and yes, it is recyclable. However, straws are just too small, and they get lost in the sorting process or fall through the conveyor belts. So they do not get recycled.
Another reason most plastic straws do not get recycled is that straws are contaminated with sticky substances, so even if they end up getting sorted, they are often discarded due to lack of cleanliness, high quantity, and poor quality of the plastic.
So why is this even a problem we should address? Straws are one of the biggest plastics produced, and they are often used once and discarded right afterwards. In the United States alone, over 300 million straws are used and discarded daily, which amounts to over 1.5 billion discarded straws each year. An estimated 1.4 million kilograms of straws are sent to the oceans and waterways every day. These straws get in the fish, and when we eat the fish, we consume the plastic. So what is the use?
The average time for plastic to biodegrade is 1000 years, and that depends on the environmental factors and type of plastic. So not only does it take time for these straws to degrade, but they also do no good to our ecosystem. Think about it: where do these plastics go once they degrade? Unlike carbon matter and other natural materials, when plastic degrades, it is broken down into smaller plastic particles called microplastics, which are then absorbed by the environment. These smaller particles are found in fish and other seafood that we eat.
So you can see that straws affect all aspects of our lives – the quality of our food, water, ecosystem, and air – because they never degrade. They merely break down into smaller particles that seem to disappear but are still present in the environment.
So what can you do about these straw issues? What exactly can you do to help? Simply say NO to plastic straws. Take your drinks without plastic straws, or instead use other straws made of materials like glass, paper, bamboo, or even steel.
Now that we have talked about all the bad that plastic straws can do for you, let’s talk about some good. It’s certain that you’ll still have some straws in your home, so instead of disposing of them, why not reuse them? Here are 20 different ways to reuse plastic straws.
Pen or Stylus Holder
Instead of disposing of your straw, you can tape one straw to the side of your notebook to have a pen or stylus holder with you. You can check YouTube for videos on how to do that.
You can turn your straw into a pin holder. It is great to use this DIY hack when you are traveling. All you have to do is bend one end of the straw and close it with tape. Put all your pins into the other end and seal it with tape.
Did you know you could make tiny vases out of straws? You can watch some videos on YouTube on how to make small vases. Once you’ve made them, you can put them in your living room, office, or bedroom.
If you have cats, you’ll know for sure that cats love straws. So don’t let those straws in your home go to waste. You can turn them into toys for your cats – it will increase the bond between you and your cat.
Single-Use Toiletry Dispensers
You know that annoying feeling when you are traveling and have to pack an entire container of sunscreen, conditioner, or lotion in your bag? The majority of us never bring everything and always leave one behind. But with this straw hack, you can carry everything along with you. Use a cigarette lighter to convert your straws into containers that can hold enough product to be used, so you don’t have to carry the whole container of shampoo when you just need a little. Just make sure you label what’s in each straw to avoid any confusion.
You can create your eyedropper using this plastic straw hack. Insert a plastic straw into the liquid and close the second end of the straw with your finger. The liquid will stay in place until you’re ready to release your finger.
Who’d have thought that you could use drinking straws as hair curlers? I am sure you didn’t. You can use straws to create lovely waves. Make sure your hair is wet, separate them into sections, and wind them around a straw. Secure the end of your hair to the straw with a pin. After all of your hair is curled around the straw, blow dry your hair to set the curls before removing all the straws.
If you keep your food in a plastic bag, you want to be sure that you are getting as much air as possible out of the bag, because leaving air in the food causes it to oxidize rapidly and go bad. But why worry about that when you have a straw with you? Put your food in the bag and insert the straw in the bag. Then seal the zipper around the straw and suck out as much air as you can. Take the straw out of the bag and close it.
If your jewelry keeps getting tangled, all you need is a plastic straw. Thread a chain through a straw and clasp it shut. This method helps to prevent your jewelry from tangling while traveling.
Unclog a Ketchup Bottle
You don’t have to create a mess to get your ketchup to pour again. When you insert a straw into the bottle of ketchup until it reaches the bottom and then remove it, the straw shape will allow air into the sauce, which will start flowing without hassle.
Easy-to-Make Seasoning Holders
You can carry your favorite seasoning without carrying the entire bottle in the same way you can with your conditioners and creams. All you need to do is fold one end of the plastic straw, shut it with tape, pour your seasoning into the other end and seal the other end with tape.
DIY Plant Watering
You can make your plants water themselves with this simple trick. All you need is a straw, a wine bottle, and a cork. You can watch videos on YouTube or search online for step-by-step instructions on how to create it. This hack will water your plants while you are away. It will keep water flow to a minimum so you can be sure the plants don’t drown. It will also save you the money of getting someone to water your plants while you are away.
Paintbrush Drying Rack
You can use the straws in your home to provide a great way to store all of your clean and drying paintbrushes. All you need for this hack is duct tape, a coffee can, and two straws. You can search online or watch videos on YouTube on how to make the paintbrush drying rack.
DIY Caulking Helper Tool
It might seem very easy to apply caulk, but it is not easy to make it look nice, let’s admit that. But all your days of messy caulk are over with a straw, because all you need to turn messy caulk into a smooth line is a straw. Run the tip of a PLASTIC straw along the wet caulk line. You can also decide to tape the straw (just a small length) into the nozzle of the caulking gun to get caulk into all the tight corners.
Improve the Aesthetics of Your Flowers
Yes, of course, you can enhance the aesthetics of your bouquet by sticking the too-short stems into straws after you’ve trimmed the straw to get the desired height and inserted the straw into your vase. Make sure you fill your vase with water, and fill it high enough so that the water reaches the stem.
Yes, you can hull strawberries. Hulling strawberries means removing the white center and green leaves. You can easily hull strawberries by inserting a straw into the fruit. You should start at the pointy end of the strawberry and move the straw straight up. Hulling strawberries makes them look really nice.
Make Croquet Wickets More Visible
Most times when we play croquet, it can be really hard to see the wickets. But you don’t have to worry about the hidden wickets anymore. You can make the wickets more visible by running them through a straw before you insert them into the ground. This will help you aim better, because now you can see the croquet wickets easily – all thanks to plastic straws.
Save Your Coffee
We tend to have lots of things in our hands while driving, and coffee is one of them. If you are driving and you have coffee in hand, all you have to do is get a straw, fold it in half, and stuff the folded end into the opening in the lid of your cup. This will help prevent your coffee from spilling should you take any sharp turns.
Remove Cork Floaters in Wine
There are times when you try to open a bottle of wine, and the cork breaks up. Trust me; we have all been there. But what can you do? You can use a plastic straw to get the broken pieces out. All you have to do is place the straw over the piece of cork, then cover the other end of the straw with your finger to create a vacuum and pull the cork piece out. Repeat the process as needed. Search online and watch a video on YouTube to see how to use plastic straws to remove cork floaters in wine.
Create DIY Jell-O Worms
If you have children and want to have some fun with the family, you can create your own disgusting-looking jelly worms with lots of plastic straws. All you have to do is pour hot gelatin into the straws and allow the gelatin to cool. Once it has cooled, squeeze your jelly worms out of your plastic straws and have fun.
So there you have 20 ways to use the straws you have at home.
With the way things are going, does this mean there will be no more straws? The answer to that is NO! There are countless alternatives to plastic straws, such as stainless steel or bamboo straws. You can carry your stainless steel straw around, or you can get one at a bar.
One of the most common alternatives to plastic straws is paper straws. Paper straws are better for the environment than plastic straws. They are disposable and biodegradable. However, you should know that paper straws might get mushy if you take longer to finish your drink.
In addition, most companies are gunning for edible straws, straws that will be suitable for long, icy drinks. However, they might not be able to replace plastic straws. There are also other plastic alternative straws that are on the market. No one knows how economically viable these alternatives are, but they could end up replacing plastic straws for good.
The most important and reasonable alternative to a plastic straw is no straw at all. Why use a straw in the first place? You can drink your beverage without one. The truth is that while paper straws can reduce the use of plastic straws, they won’t fully eliminate the problem of plastic straws. The best way to get rid of plastic straws is to stop using straws.
Everyone knows that plastic straws are bad for the environment. We all know what they do to our ecosystem. So should we just go ahead and ban plastic straws? Although it is easy to say yes to this question, the solution is not as easy as it seems.
As a woman, you put on makeup and lipstick and go to a bar or restaurant to get something to drink. Would you rather drink from the bottle or with a straw? Most women would prefer to drink from the straw. Also, cold, icy cocktails are difficult to drink without using a straw, and using a paper straw will become hazardous if they start becoming mushy in the drink.
And yes, these two cases make it hard to decide if we should go ahead and ban plastic straws or not.
That is not all. People with disabilities such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy need plastic straws to hydrate. If we put a ban on plastic straws, what about the needs of disabled people? Should we leave them to their fates while we live our normal lives?
Most importantly, banning plastic straws might not make the public aware of the environmental issues caused by single-use plastics. So what is the use?
Placing a ban on plastic straws might be the right thing to do, but we should focus on our biggest enemy: PLASTIC, not one of its constituents. We should focus on using less of everything plastic, be it plastic bags, water bottles, plastic cups, etc.
For some of us, plastic straws are useless in our lives, while for others, plastic straws are very useful.
Since we can’t say for sure that the plastic straws are going to be recycled and since we know that it takes 1000 years for plastic to decompose (depending on the plastic and environmental factors), we should reduce straw use completely. Learn to say NO to plastic straws.
If you keep using plastic straws that don’t get recycled, you are helping to create contamination that cost some cities millions of dollars per year to remove. Not only that, you are helping to poison our fish, sea, air, and ecosystem. This means you are also poisoning yourself, because these straws will end up in the oceans and get into the fish and seafood you eat.
So if you don’t have sensitive teeth, please tell restaurants that you don’t need a straw, or simply leave it in the paper wrapping so another customer can use it. If you know you love straws and can’t do without them, invest some money into buying a reusable straw and take it along with you wherever you go to avoid using plastic straws.