Straws have been around for a very long time! Pretty much ever since humans found hollow reeds and “Eureka” realized that they could blow through them. Or just as easily, suck and slurp, making the reed a handy tool. But today things have gotten out of hand. Every day, worldwide, we consume 500 million straws. And most are used for less than ten minutes and thrown away. Bringing us all to February 3rd, to say: “No Straw Please,” it’s International Straw Free Day.
Slurping Thru Time!
Here’s some interesting trivia from an article celebrating National Drinking Straw Day and 125 years of straws. “Before we had the plastic straws of today there were paper straws, and before that beverages were sipped via a tube of natural rye grass. Marvin Stone was tired of all of his drinks tasting of grass, so he put his thinking cap on and came up with a solution: paper straws. He wrapped a piece of paper around a pencil to create a tube, removed the pencil, and then glued the tube together.”
“Stone owned a paper cigarette holder company, which surely helped lead to his innovation of the straw. Once the paper straw tested well with local drinking establishments Stone upgraded his technique. He began wrapping manila paper into a tube and then coating it with paraffin wax, creating a much stronger straw than the original paper and glue. This model was patented on January 3rd, 1888. Two years later Stone was selling more straws than cigarette holders. In 1906 a machine was invented to roll the straws instead of rolling them all by hand, and the rest is history.”
Great Invention Becomes a Huge Environmental Problem!
If Marvin Stone were alive today, we think he would be shocked to learn where his straws end up. The sea collects garbage, especially floating plastic debris, that is concentrated by ocean currents into five enormous vortexes.
Called gyres, there is one in each of the planet’s five oceans. The largest, called the Great Pacific Garbage patch is twice the size of the state of Texas.
Plastic straws are found floating in all the gyres where they are often mistaken by birds, fish and other marine life as food. A mother feeds what she thinks are nutritious morsels to her chick only to discover that the chick dies of a stomach bloated by plastic waste.
Plastics aren’t biodegradable. Instead they break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are microscopic. When marine life consumes these plastic pieces it interferes with their reproductive systems. Here’s a website that tells you more about the problem: World Plastic Straws Ban Campaign.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO!
This National Skip the Straw website gives you some very easy suggestions on how you and your family can break the plastic straw habit. Share it around. Plus see what Blue Ocean suggests in: What You Can Do to Stop Ocean Plastic Debris
“For most of us, the easiest way is to pick up the glass and tip it back like our parents taught us to do when we were four or five and there are other fun, eco-friendly, healthy options.” (photo – silicone reusable straws, littlemonkeystore)
- Bamboo straws are a renewable, reusable and biodegradable.
- Paper straws, while still disposable, are biodegradable and from a renewable source.
- Glass straws are coming in durable, colorful designs fit for a variety of beverages.
- Stainless steel straws are an option for those of us who like our cold drinks really cold!
Other Ways to Observe International Straw Free Day:
- Volunteer to help clean up your local beaches, parks or neighborhoods. Take note of how many straws are included in all the litter.
- Plan ahead. Do you frequent fast food restaurants or get beverages to go? You will often receive the straw before you have the chance to say no. Be prepared when you order to request your drink without a straw.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean.net
See related Blue Ocean articles on banning the plastic straw:
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