Why We Should Not Ban Plastic Straws

Recently, more people have been jumping on the bandwagon of using metal straws instead of plastic straws and pushing for a ban on plastic straws. What they don’t know is that plastic straws aren’t all that bad. Here’s why:

 

1. Metal straws are not a good replacement.

Metal straws are more expensive and are further supporting capitalism. Companies are profiting off of this green movement by making billions of metal straws per year. These straws take more money to make than plastic straws, and potentially are more hazardous for the environment to make than plastic ones, polluting our air even more. Metal straws are also not good for hot drinks, the metal will become too hot which is dangerous, especially for children. Another reason why they are not a good alternative is that people often forget to bring their metal straw wherever they go. 

 

2. People with disabilities need plastic straws.

The metal straw movement is not inclusive for people with disabilities, it is an ableist movement. People with disabilities rely on plastic straws to drink and eat. Plastic is a good material for people with disabilities to use because they are the only material that is sterile, hypoallergenic, can be used with hot liquids, and do not hurt your teeth when you bite down on them. Working with people with disabilities in my internship program, I have witnessed the need for plastic straws. Some people are unable to chew their food and need to mix it up into liquid form in order to eat, some people cannot hold their own cup and need help from a straw, and some others need straws for safety reasons. 

 

3. Plastic straws don’t contribute to pollution as much as people think.

Plastic straws make up only 0.03% of marine debris, whereas fishing equipment makes up 46%. An alternative could be to reuse plastic straws by simply washing them or not straws if you are a person who has the privilege to choose. In the meantime, we can use our energy to do something more beneficial like creating stricter fishing regulations. 

 

4. There are more important issues we need to tackle.

This campaign is conveying a false impression and providing misleading information in order to deceive the public to buy their “environmentally friendly” products. Because of this greenwashing campaign, we are blinded from seeing bigger environmental issues. One of the biggest issues is food waste. In America, almost half of our food is being wasted due to the overproduction of food, higher food expectations (ex: no brown spots on strawberries, cannot eat food past its expiration), and food waste at home. 

 

In terms of the environment, there's no wrong way to make a difference. But make sure you're informed about the effects before you make a choice.