I Went a Month Without Using Plastic Straws and You Should Too

After watching a Buzzfeed video in which 100 people were asked not to use single-use straws for a week, I figured, “how hard could it really be for one person to go an entire month without them?” While I am already a vegetarian and proud animal activist, my plastic usage is something I have continuously struggled with. Admittedly, I often ask for and use straws at restaurants and bars more frequently than I should so for the month of March, I gave up plastic straws entirely.

After learning that more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year and that the US alone uses more than 500 million plastic straws each day, I decided I needed to do my part to reduce my plastic usage.

At first, the entire experience was easier than I thought as I simply avoided drinks that would need a straw. However, I sometimes found myself in situations where I truly doubted my ability to go without. An example was when my university café had half-priced smoothies available. I confidently walked to the counter and asked for a smoothie with no straw before realizing how much of a mess I was about to make. As I took the lid off and attempted to politely guzzle my smoothie down, I realized I didn’t have to swear off ALL straws, just single-use ones.

Metal straws are an eco-friendly, reusable alternative to plastic straws. I ordered this package of straws on Amazon for $7.95, but also saw them available in retail stores such as Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond. Having a handy little pack of straws meant I could keep one in each of the bags I carry with me to ensure I always had one.

The places I found to be the worst with straws were the bars. I watched as the bartenders threw straws into drinks, only for the person to take the straw out three seconds later. I pushed the no-straw lifestyle on my friends often and, after hearing my constant preaching, they too began asking for their drinks sans straw. However, despite asking every single time, they usually always came with a straw. When I questioned a local bartender on it, he told me it was “out of habit” and was clearly unaware how dangerous of a habit it was.

During this time, I also began to evaluate the other single-use plastic items that I use in my daily life. Plastic bags, single-use food containers, and plastic cutlery are just some of the things I’ve come to realize are chosen more out of convenience than ecological thinking. Since starting this challenge, it’s evident that our world is so accustomed to single-use plastic items that it’s hard to see the fault in using them.

Moving forward, I have made the lifestyle decision to continue avoiding plastic straws and to hopefully minimize my plastic usage significantly.

While it may sound difficult, I challenge you to give up or, at the very least, minimize your plastic usage as well. Giving up straws may be a small start, but it does make you feel good knowing you’re helping in some way. If you think it may be too difficult, ask yourself how many times you’ve not needed a straw, but used it anyway because one was provided.  Simply asking for no straw is an amazing first step.

The next time you are faced with single-use plastic items, first ask yourself how badly you truly need it, and then think of an eco-friendly alternative. Alternatives are out there. Our generation saying no to plastic straws now is the first step in ensuring that future generations are able to grow up in an ecologically thriving world.

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