It’s hard to avoid news and images about the impacts of plastic waste on our planet. One of the culprits is straws. According to the One Less Straw campaign, Americans use close to 500 million plastic straws every day. That’s enough straws to circle the earth 2.5 times. They are the 11th most found ocean trash. And each year, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting plastic, including straws.
See also 5 Ways to Go Green This Earth Day.
But plastic straws aren’t just bad for the environment. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, they can also be bad for your body. How?
- Drinking sugary or acidic beverages with a straw can increase the risk of cavities, because straws send a concentrated stream of liquid toward a small area of teeth, which can erode enamel and cause tooth decay.
- Sipping from a straw introduces air into the digestive tract, which can cause gas and bloating.
- Use of straws can lead to wrinkle lines around your mouth, the same ones smokers get.
- Most straws are made from a type of plastic called polypropylene, chemicals from which have been shown to affect estrogen levels.
Two simple ways to reduce use of plastic straws are:
- Next time you’re at a restaurant, request your drink without a straw (a growing number of restaurants are serving drinks either without straws or with reusable ones).
- Use reusable straws, like ones from Klean Kanteen below.
Klean Kanteen Straws
Makers of stainless-steel reusable cups and water bottles, Klean Kanteen created reusable steel straws, like the Multi-Color 5 Piece Straw Set. $9.95; kleankanteen.com
Reusable Water Bottles
Along with straws, plastic bottles are a major factor in plastic waste around the world. Instead of spending money repeatedly on bottled water, why not fill up a reusable bottle? Here are two with added benefits.
DYLN Living Water Bottle
This stainless-steel bottle has a unique feature: a “diffuser” that increases water pH alkalinity up to 9+. (Normal drinking water generally has a pH of 7.) Potential benefits of alkaline water include: improved digestion, an immune-system boost and better cardiovascular health. With an ergonomic design, a carrying handle and a grippy silicone sleeve for easy handling. $46; dyln.co
Two recent studies reported that 93 percent of bottled water and 83 percent of tap water is contaminated with microplastics including synthetic fiber clothing, tire dust and microbeads (common in face washes), as well as fragments of larger pieces of plastic. The LifeStraw Go refillable bottle features a “straw” that, according to testing, filters 99.999 percent of microplastics, while also removing harmful bacteria and metals. Use daily; also good for hiking and camping. $44.95; lifestraw.com