“The plastic waste that humans do not think twice about using mostly end up in the ocean. There are many cases where these plastics that end up in the ocean impact marine life. A pilot whale died due to ingesting 4.8 kg of plastic in 2015 and more recently in May 2018, an infant pilot whale was also found dead due to plastic in our waters. Plastic in the ocean also turns into microplastic. Marine life consuming microplastic means that when we consume fish products, we too are consuming microplastic. Do you actually know where your food source comes from?” laments Dr Henry Chan, Conservation Director of WWF-Malaysia, article in “WWF- Malaysia in Full Support of Plastic Straw Ban”.
According to the 3 separate sources in onelessstraw.org, 1millionwoman.com.au and onegreenplanet.com, there are 3 important key messages that we shall re-think of using plastic straws:
- Plastic straws are the 11th most found ocean trash (2017)
- It takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose and they can’t be recycled in most places.
- Each year, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from digesting plastic
Honestly, I was curious why can’t plastic straw be recycled? I started to do some reading and found out that plastic straws are too lightweight. They are too small to separate and drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials. Many of the plastic straws ended in the ocean and put not only the marine animals at risk but also human. This is certainly not a win-win situation. According to The Star dated 10 March 2019, under the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics, there will be no more drinking straws and plastic carrier bags by 2030. Starting 1 July 2019, plastic straws would only be given at the request of customers in all Selangor restaurants.
For me, I bought the reusable stainless-steel straws for my kids who might drink cold drink in the restaurant. Do they use it? Yes. In fact, they love it. This is because they understand the risk imposed to the marine life when they use the plastic straw at each of their drink. Besides, my children learn to clean the reusable straws in the restaurant after they finish the drink. They become more responsible now. Is that convenient to bring along the reusable straws? Yes, it is portable because it comes with small bag or box. In fact, the challenge that we face is most restaurant workers still give us the plastic straw despite us asking for “No straw, please”. Bar counter workers and or waiter/waitress are just too busy serving the customers and they tend to forget about our request. Hence, cooperation between the restaurant and customers are equally important if we want to go plastic straw free society.
There are many debates on the policy to ban plastic straw usage such as whether changing user habit of using straws are effective way to help saving marine life and environment; people questions about reusable straw is a good substitute to plastic straws and some even suggest to reuse plastic straws and others. I am not the expert of recycle products. However, I do know that so long plastic straw is not able to recycle and if they end up in the ocean will certainly impose risk to marine life, human and the environment. Hence, let us take one step at a time to solve the big environment issues. Say “No” to plastic straw and I am sure you can still enjoy your drink with reusable straws or even without straws.