Are Paper Straws Really Better For The Environment?
Lifestyle - News
By MARIE CARTAGENA
When 9-year-old Milo Cress collected statistics on American plastic straw usage and found that citizens use 500 million straws per day, he founded the Be Straw Free campaign and launched a nationwide movement to phase out plastic straws in favor of paper ones. However, are paper straws truly better for the environment and some of its marginalized inhabitants?
Paper straws definitely don't take over 500 years to decompose, like plastic. However, The Atlantic even says that paper straws are the lesser of two evils, and only partially solve the waste problem; despite being made of paper, they're still disposable, single-use items, and straws make up a puny 0.025 percent of plastic that pollutes the ocean each year.
Also, paper straws often go limp and disintegrate into your drink, and chemicals from the straw can leach into the liquid. Still, these things seem like mere annoyances to most beverage enjoyers, but they can actually be quite harmful to disabled people, as staff attorney Amy Scherer of the National Disability Rights Network says.
Scherer explains that people with limited upper body strength, range of motion, dexterity, and/or coordination often need bendy straws to drink, because using a cup or straight plastic straw — or a paper straw, which can't bend, either — is a struggle. With corporations such as Starbucks banning plastic straws entirely, this push to do good may not be good for everybody.