History & Facts – Straws
History of Paper Straw
First modern paper drinking straw was made in 1888 by Marvin C. Stone to address the shortcomings of the rye grass straw which were the only option at that time. Early paper straws had a narrow bore similar to that of the grass stems then in common use. It was common to use two of them, to reduce the effort needed to take each sip. Modern plastic straws are made with a larger bore, and only one is needed for ease of drinking but looking at the fact that plastic produces large quantity of polutions and damage to the environment, a constant improvisations are taking place in making paper straws better and even stronger than ever before.
Plastic Straws – Most commonly used but causing maximum damage to the environment
Plastic drinking straw production contributes to petroleum consumption, and the used straws become part of global plastic pollution when discarded, most after a single use. One anti-straw advocacy group has estimated that about 500 million straws are used daily in the United States alone – an average 1.6 straws per capita per day. This statistic has been criticized as inaccurate, because it is a guess made by Milo Cress, who was 9 years old at the time, after some phone conversations with straw manufacturers. This figure has been widely cited by major news organizations. In 2017 the market research firm Fredonia Group estimated the number to be 390 million.
It’s clear that the use of plastic straws is an issue that needs to be addressed. And with many companies choosing paper over plastic, it’s worth exploring whether paper straws are helping or hurting the environment.
Paper Straws – A Revolutionary Solution!
Making the switch from single-use plastic straws to paper straws can certainly have a huge impact towards making environment clean and process eco-friendly. Here are five (5) major benefits of using paper straws over plastic straws:
1. Paper straws are biodegradable: Even if you toss your plastic straws in the recycling bin, they’ll likely end up in landfills or the ocean, where they can take years to decompose. On the flip side, paper straws are fully biodegradable and compostable. If they do end up in the ocean, they’ll start to break down within just three days.
2. Paper straws take less amount of time to decompose: As we learned, plastic straws can take hundreds of years to fully decompose, lasting for up to 200 years in a landfill. It’s much more likely that they’ll wind up in the ocean, where they break into smaller microplastics that end up being ingested by fish and marine life. Unlike plastic, paper straws will decompose back into the earth within 2-6 weeks.
3. Switching to paper straws will reduce the pollution caused by production of plastic straws: Our use of plastic straws as a planet is staggering. Each day we use millions of straws – enough to fill 46,400 school buses per year. In the last 25 years, 6,363,213 straws and stirrers were picked up during annual beach cleanup events. Choosing paper over plastic will greatly reduce this footprint.
4. They’re (relatively) affordable: As more businesses become aware of the negative effects of plastic straws and environmentally conscious of their waste and recycling footprint, demand for paper straws has risen. In fact, paper straw supply can’t keep up with the demand. Businesses can now buy paper straws in bulk for as little as 2 cents each.
5. Paper straws are safer for wildlife: Paper straws are marine life-friendly. According to a study from 5 Gyres, they’ll break down in 6 months, meaning they’re safer for wildlife than plastic straws.