YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Environmentalists say Americans use 500 million disposable drinking straws every day, and they are asking everyone to give them up.
Say No to the Straw – it’s a challenge that has been making the rounds on social media. Different environmental groups want everyone to be aware of the harm they cause.
Environmentalists say over 175 billion disposable straws end up in landfills every year or worse, in the ocean.
“They are the leading cause of death in whales and dolphins right now,” said Peg Flynn with the Mahoning County Green Team.
If a straw gets littered or blown out of your trash can, it can ultimately end up in the local watershed. Flynn said most people are just not aware of the harm one little straw can do.
While you can recycle plastic, disposable straws are not. They are too small for recycling systems.
“They have to be big enough to be sorted and to not get mixed with other items,” Flynn said.
There are alternatives like bamboo, steel and glass straws but Flynn said those can be pricey and probably aren’t reasonable.
“Realistically, I think, the best answer is to not using plastic drinking straws. Either don’t get a straw if you don’t need one or get a paper straw,” Flynn said. “If fast food chains would make a cup with a fold up tab on the lid, most people would be able to drink like you would a travel mug.”
Paper straws have to be discarded but Flynn said but at least it’s biodegradable, and there are reusable plastic straws to consider. She hopes for better alternatives in the future.