Order your next drink without a straw and talk to local businesses about why they should #breakfreefromplastic.
Today is National Skip the Straw Day. It always falls on the fourth Friday of February, and is a reminder of how important it is to move away from using single-use, disposable plastics in our everyday lives. The National Park Service estimates that Americans use 500 million straws daily, which means that if everyone observed Skip the Straw Day, that would be 500 million fewer straws getting tossed today. That is a lot of straws, roughly enough to fill 127 school buses daily and circle the Earth's circumference 2.5 times.
We've said it many times on TreeHugger, but as straws continue to show up all over the place, it's worth repeating. Straws are pointless (except under certain medical conditions), impossible to recycle, and non-biodegradable. As I wrote earlier:
"Straws, which are made of a petroleum byproduct called polypropylene mixed with colorants and plasticizers, do not biodegrade naturally in the environment. Some are incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals into the air, but most end up in the ground, where they will hang around for an estimated 400 years and leach chemicals into the ground. That means that every straw ever used still exists on this planet."
National Skip the Straw Day was founded in 2017 by a group of students from Whitehall, Michigan, who call themselves the Coral Keepers. Its purpose is to encourage people to go without straws for one day and to use that momentum to encourage workplaces and schools to reassess their own habits. You won't be alone. As Sami wrote for TreeHugger earlier this month, everyone from airports to ferry companies to restaurant chains to the Queen of England are ditching straws in favor of reusables.
The good news is, you don't need a straw! You can return to the old-fashioned act of sipping -- or, as the Coral Keepers describe it, "pick up the glass and tip it back like our parents taught us to do when we four or five. It may take some practice and maybe both hands."
Business owners can check out alternatives like Aardvark paper straws or opt out of offering straws at all, except upon request, at which point the paper straws come out. Individuals can stock up on reusable straws made from glass, stainless steels, or bamboo, keeping one handy in a purse. See the list of related posts below this one for lots of ideas.