Why (Single-use) Straws Suck

KFC, Resorts World Sentosa, Texas Chicken- these are a few of the handful of companies that have stopped providing single-use plastic straws. In Taiwan, the bubble tea capital of the world, single-use plastics (including straws) are to be banned by 2030. In 2018, an international wave against single-use plastic straws began, which is honestly a great step towards environmental change.

Especially after watching this video, many people began to reconsider if they really needed to use plastic straws.

Plastic straws, and other single-use plastics, are one of the worst possible things you could do. It’s common knowledge by now that we have created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge floating mass of trash twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France.

We use resusable cups, straws, lids, bags- and we toss them after using them only once. Some of it ends up in the trash, where its burning ends up in toxic gases released into the air, and the remaining ashes are unceremoniously dumped in landfills.

Singapore’s only landfill, Pulau Semakau, is estimated to be full in a mere decade. Photo: ST

And that’s only one part of the story. A lot of our plastic is not properly disposed of, and is discarded as litter. Most of it ends up in the ocean, where it chokes and kills sea creatures such as turtles and seabirds. Even better still, the plastic breaks down into microplastics, which is ingested by sea creatures and then- you guessed it- consumed by us! Yay humans!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… right?

And what about recycling, you may ask? According to the Auckland Council, plastic can only be recycled about 7-9 times. It loses quality with every cycle and eventually ends up not being recyclable at all. On the other hand, more hardy materials like glass can be recycled infinitely as they don’t lose quality.

I mean, if you reuse and recycle, that’s fantastic. But you’re honestly better off not using singe-use plastics at all.

Singaporeans love convenience. Our fast-paced lifestyle may make sustainability a chore. But that makes us culprits. The little plastic bags that come with your Ya Kun takeaway. The straws and plastic cups used for your kopitiam iced teh. The plastic bags that encase all of our shopping.

KFC alone saves an estimated 17.7 tonnes of single-use plastics in a year by not providing lids and straws unless asked. Considering how light plastic straws are, 17.7 tonnes is a LOT of straws.

As a consumer, reconsider: do you really need that bag, or that straw? You probably can still drink your beverage without a plastic tube to help you along, it’s just that the straw is given to you so you mindlessly use it.

Student Manushri Rajesvaran, 17, told Channel NewsAsia: “I use the straws because they give them. If they didn’t, I probably wouldn’t.”

If you really can’t live without straws, why not consider buying a reusable one? They even have straws that are bubble-tea sized, made of materials such as stainless steel, glass, or bamboo.

Perhaps straws are just a small change, but until producers get their shit together consider the impact their products make (which they probably won’t because profit comes first), the onus lies on consumers to make responsible choices. So our children actually have a planet to live on.

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