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Turtle with straw in nose


Mel's Mess: Plastic Straws

How many plastic straws were collected in 2023?

18,490 plastic straws were picked up by the Surfrider Foundation. That's almost more than 4,000 collected in 2023.


How are plastic straws made?

Plastic straws are made of a plastic called polypropylene plastic. Polypropylene is a resin made by stringing together molecules of a propylene gas.


How long does it take to break down? 

Straws have been around for 7,000 years, but were originally made from wood, gold or other recyclable materials. The modern plastic straw was created in the early 1900's and it can take up to 200 years for one plastic straw to break down!


Why are plastic straws bad for the environment?

As plastic straws are exposed to different temperatures, it breaks down into microplastics (which we'll talk about in a future blog). It can infiltrate all living things including humans. Scientists have estimated we consume the same amount as one credit card per week! Still intact straws can get ingested or lodged in animals.


Are paper straws any better?

For sure paper straws are better than plastic straws as they are biodegradable. But to make paper straws, one needs to make paper first. And to make paper, one needs to cut down trees. This leads to a destruction of forests and higher greenhouse emissions. Furthermore, paper straws are single-use or half a use depending on the brand! 


What can be done? 

Refuse to use single-use plastic straws! In California, AB 1884 prohibits businesses from offering single use plastic straws unless requested. Keep your own reusable straws: bamboo, metal or glass. PLA straws look and feel just like plastic straws but are a bioplastic made from corn starch and are 100% compostable.

How to learn more: I came across these articles when completing my research: