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Does Banning Plastic Straws Actually Work?

The true environmental effects of the "no plastic straws" movement


What's going on?

As if overnight, banning plastic straw use has become the unified goal of social groups, environmentalists, restaurants, major corporations, and governments. According to the National Park Service, 500 million straws are used daily in the United States alone. Studies estimate that a total of 8.3 billion plastic straws currently pollute the earth’s beaches. The rising concern for single-use plastics has catapulted restaurants, coffee shops, and major corporations all over the world to reevaluate the convenience and disposability of straws.


The “ban plastic straws” movement has also adversely received backlash for the effectiveness that banning plastic straws has on the larger plastic pollution problem. Of the 8 million tons of plastic waste found in the ocean, straws account for only 0.025 percent (2,000). Steve Russell, vice president for the American Chemistry Council, suggests that instead of the total eradication of straws, organizations should focus on better waste management systems.


As new and improved waste and recycling systems begin to emerge, National Geographic suggests that choosing alternatives to plastic straws is simple for most able-bodied people as it does not require a drastic lifestyle change. In the end, banning plastic straws is a step towards the larger environmental goal: ending the necessity of single-use plastics once and for all. Environmental groups and governments are hoping to reverse the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on the earth by encouraging consumers that it is not useless to use less.


Will Shifting to Reusable Straws Really Make a Difference?