The Eco Column: Metal Straws and the Problem With Single-Use Plastics

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The Eco Column: Metal Straws and the Problem With Single-Use Plastics

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Welcome to your friendly neighborhood eco column!

Environmental concerns are a huge part of the world right now. We care about the Earth and we want our readers to care too! The purpose of this column is to raise awareness about environmental concerns at City and in our community.

In each installment, we will be addressing these issues and exploring ways in which we, as students and citizens, can do our part to help solve them. There may also be some fun reviews of “environmentally friendly” products or organizations.

Our first area of interest is single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are one of the biggest environmental issues in the world right now. However, it’s a problem we can easily begin solving in our everyday lives.

Only about 9 percent of the world’s plastic waste is actually being recycled, leading to around eight million tons of plastic waste being dumped into our oceans each year. Most of this plastic is not biodegradable. It stays in our landfills, our oceans, and our environment, as the chemicals are poisoning our plants and animals.

Recently, there has been an attack on plastic straws and an emergence of reusable alternatives to them. Metal straws have gained popularity as a part of the “Save the Turtles” movement.

Reusable metal straws seem like a good option, but they may not be worth the hype. 74 percent of all steel is produced using coal, which also harms the earth by contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. On top of this, it takes the same amount of energy to produce one metal straw as it does to produce 90 plastic straws.

Metal straws are just one example of an attempted solution to the single-use plastic issue. However, there are many ways to expand our solutions and begin thinking bigger-picture about how to stop the widespread reliance on single-use plastics.

With this in mind, we encourage all of you to attempt to cut down on your plastic use. Whether this is bringing a reusable water bottle, remembering to ask for no straw, or finding creative ways to avoid plastic silverware, any small contribution can make a tremendous difference.

Even though it feels like tackling a very small part of a very big problem, the revolution against plastic straws is an amazing start and is already making a difference. If it can spur an even bigger movement against all single-use plastics, we can begin to make a huge change in the world.