Brooks argues against the use of plastic straws


Photo by: Ashlan Brooks

Every day Americans use over 500 million plastic straws each day. Ashlan Brooks advocates for alternative usage for straws.

Story by Ashlan Brooks, Print Co-Editor, Online Co-Editor

Did you know that Americans use over 500 million plastic straws each day? This number may seem astronomical, but let’s look at the facts: Every year 10 million tons of plastic waste gets funneled into our oceans.

Every person on earth wastes 88 pounds of plastic each year, and 79% of that plastic waste finds its way into the ocean. All this floating plastic has to go somewhere right? Wrong, this plastic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and unless some effort is made to staunch the flow, we are looking at having more plastic in our oceans by 2025 than fish, according to the article “Plastic Waste Inputs From Land Into The Ocean” by Jenna R. Jambeck.

So I guess the big question is: where do we start? The recent bans on Plastic Straws are the first and most reasonable step to stopping ocean pollution, and help solve one of the world’s biggest environmental problems.

Some companies, like Starbucks and American Airlines, are vowing to stop its usage of plastic straws. Starbucks recently set a goal of stopping its usage by 2020.

This year, Seattle, Washington set a ban in place that prohibits the use of plastic straws anywhere in the city. If you’re caught using any of the banned plastics, you will be subject to a 250 dollar fine. In response to this, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will officially pass a law on July 1, 2019 that bans small plastics like straws and toothpicks from being used or distributed in their city.

In doing this, these companies and cities are helping to reduce ocean pollution, and setting an esteemed example for others to follow. If other major contributors were to also ban plastic straws, we would be looking at a healthier and cleaner ocean. 

If other major contributors were to also ban plastic straws, we would be looking at a healthier and cleaner ocean. 

— Ashlan Brooks

But sadly, some people do not feel the same. One cause for people to be unsupportive of the recent bans is a disability.

According to CNN’s article “Why Banning Plastic Straws Upsets People With Disabilities,” by Ayana Archie and Dalila-Johari Paul, many disabled people rely on plastic straws for reasons like muscle weakness and inability to drink without them. It says that 25-year-old Daniel Gilbert needs them because they are the only straws that are able to withstand the hot temperatures of his coffee and the only ones he can find that has the particular length he needs to be able to drink.

But what many people don’t know, is that there are many options on the market that have the capabilities of plastic straws, but can be reusable and more efficient. One such option is paper straws. They cost only one and a half cents more per straw and are a far better choice when it comes to benefiting the environment.

Some people could also argue that stopping plastic straw usage won’t do any good, and will only hurt consumers. What they don’t realize, is that stopping ocean pollution has to start somewhere. If people refuse to ban even the most expendable of plastic, then what steps will we take to stop this problem.