The Last Straw

In San Joaquin County, we haven’t experienced a ban on plastic straws yet, but there is a movement geared toward paring down our use, or stopping it all together. That’s because 500 million straws are tossed out daily in the United States. That creates a lot of waste in local landfills, endangers ocean animals, and harms the environment.

In order to remedy the problem an organization called The Last Plastic Straw is encouraging cities and businesses to ban plastic straws, and for individuals to request not to use plastic straws when out and about. Companies like the Walt Disney Company and entire counties, including Santa Barbara, have already embraced the ban.

Can Straws Be Recycled?
While many types of plastic are recyclable, plastic straws are not. Most straws are made of combined plastics that are recyclable on their own, but most recycling companies, including the City of Stockton, do not allow people to throw these pesky tools in their recycling bins. Why? They are so small and bendy that they cause problems with the recycling machinery.

Get Involved
It’s easy to make an impact on this movement. If you want to help, simply turn down plastic straws at restaurants when you order a drink. Taking it to go? It might be hard to sip without one, so carry a reusable option with you (collapsible versions make it easy).

If you own a business, consider doing a company-wide ban on plastic straws and purchasing paper instead, or not offering plastic straws unless requested.

Straw-ternatives
Ditching plastic straws doesn’t mean forgoing straws all together. According to The City of Stockton, there are some great alternatives. Paper straws have long been popular, although some complain they get soggy over time. Glass and stainless steel straws, however, do not. And they are reusable, which is a big bonus for Mother Earth.

Want to get really creative? Make your own ice straws. Using a mold (sold by ThinkGeek.com) create 8-inch drinking straws out of any liquid. This is also a fun way to add flavor to water or a new twist to a cocktail. Just remember to drink fast—obviously these melt.

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