Why You Should Think Twice Before Throwing Away Plastic Straws

Plastic straws ... they are simply everywhere. When you pull into a fast-food drive thru and buy yourself a drink, the cashier at the window will most likely hand you a paper-wrapped plastic straw, too. The same goes for when you dine out at a restaurant. If you order a drink, you'll most always get a plastic straw. According to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers, nearly 163 million people dine out at least once a week. With such a huge number of people eating out so often, you can only imagine how many plastic straws are being tossed out without a second thought.

Many companies are trying to phase out plastic straws. Per Green Compostables, plastic straws are now being substituted for straws made from bamboo, stainless steel, and even hay. This shift in production all stems from worries about the environment. Before you take another sip from a plastic straw, you should read on to find out what really happens when you toss your plastic straw and what you can do with them instead.

Throwing away plastic straws harms the environment

Plastic straws are becoming a drinking necessity of the past, and that's a good thing. Although the little flexible piece of plastic may seem harmless enough, we may unknowingly be contributing to a very large problem when we use them — the degradation of the planet. According to National Geographic, as our reliance on plastic products continues to increase, plastic pollution is becoming one of the biggest problems our environment is facing today.

In an interview with Stanford Report, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions Jim Leape says while plastic straws are only a small fraction of the plastic ocean-pollution problem, urging companies to ban the use of plastic straws is the first step towards bigger change. As it stands now, Leape predicts our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by the year 2050 if we don't start making efforts towards change — that change could start by no longer using plastic straws.

While the question of if paper straws are really safer for the environment is still up for debate, there's no question that their plastic cousins are doing more damage than good to our planet. 

Try upcycling plastic straws instead

At this point, you may be wondering what else there is to do besides throw away plastic straws? If you love arts and crafts, you're going to enjoy our next suggestion.

Upcycling stuff you thought was garbage is one way you can keep your plastic straws out of the ocean and make some really neat decorations for your home. Never heard of upcycling before? Upcycle That breaks the term down like this: "[Upcycling is the] act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. In doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable and beautiful than what it previously was."

Sounds a lot better than having your plastic straws dumped somewhere, right? If you're at a loss of what you could possibly create out of a bunch of flimsy straws, HGTV has you covered. Their plastic straw air planter craft is just one way you can help the planet and also turn your home into a garden paradise.