Harms of Plastic Straws to Nature

Plastic straws have been widely used for decades, but the harms that they pose to the environment have become increasingly evident in recent years. Single-use plastic straws are one of the most common items found in beach cleanups and are a major contributor to the plastic pollution crisis. Paper straws, on the other hand, have emerged as a more sustainable alternative, but some have argued that they are not as effective as plastic straws. In this essay, we will explore the harms of plastic straws compared to paper straws.

Firstly, plastic straws take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic straws are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic that does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics, which can persist in the environment for centuries. Microplastics have been found in the food chain, from plankton to fish, and ultimately to humans. These tiny plastic particles can cause a range of health problems, including cancer, reproductive issues, and developmental problems in children.

Paper straws, on the other hand, are biodegradable and can break down in a matter of weeks. They are made from renewable resources such as paper pulp, which is a much more sustainable material than plastic. Unlike plastic straws, paper straws can be composted, which means they can be turned into soil and used to grow new plants.

Secondly, plastic straws are a major contributor to marine pollution. According to a study by the Ocean Conservancy, plastic straws are the fifth most common item found in beach cleanups worldwide. When plastic straws end up in the ocean, they can harm marine life. Sea turtles, for example, are known to mistake plastic straws for food and can ingest them, causing a range of health problems. Plastic straws can also entangle and suffocate marine animals, such as seals and sea birds.

Paper straws, on the other hand, are much less harmful to marine life. They can break down in the ocean, and even if they are ingested by marine animals, they are much less likely to cause harm than plastic straws. Furthermore, because paper straws are made from renewable resources, they do not contribute to the depletion of non-renewable resources.

Thirdly, plastic straws contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The production of plastic straws requires large amounts of fossil fuels, which are a major contributor to climate change. The extraction, transportation, and processing of fossil fuels all produce greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming. Additionally, the manufacturing process for plastic straws produces toxic chemicals that can harm workers and the environment.

Paper straws, on the other hand, have a much lower carbon footprint than plastic straws. They are made from renewable resources that require less energy to produce than plastic. Additionally, the production of paper straws produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than plastic straws. This means that by using paper straws instead of plastic straws, we can reduce our carbon footprint and help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Finally, plastic straws are a significant waste problem. In the United States alone, it is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used every day. Most of these straws are used once and then discarded, ending up in landfills or the environment. Plastic straws can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, and many end up in the environment where they can cause harm to wildlife.

Paper straws, on the other hand, are a much more sustainable option. They are biodegradable and can be composted, which means they do not contribute to the waste problem in the same way that plastic straws do.

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