Are Metal Straws Safer for the Environment?
Metal straws have been gaining popularity in recent years as people become more conscious of the need to reduce their environmental impact. But are metal straws really any better for the planet than their plastic counterparts? Let’s take a closer look at metal straws and their environmental credentials.
Why Is There So Much Hype Around Metal Straws?
Metal straws are often seen as a more sustainable option than plastic straws, as they can be reused multiple times and don’t end up in a landfill. When speaking about environmental damage, plastic straws are one of the worst culprits.
It’s estimated that over 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded daily in the United States alone, and a large proportion of these end up in our oceans. So, it’s no wonder metal straws are being heralded as a more eco-friendly option.
Were Plastic Straws Impacting the Environment at a Mass Level?
The answer is a resounding yes. Plastic pollution is the current biggest source of land pollution in the world. Here are some key facts about plastic straws and the way they impact our Earth:
- US citizens use around 500 million plastic straws daily.
- Most plastic straws enter the ocean via beaches, where they are discarded in great numbers.
- Many scientists believe that the ocean will have more plastic than fish by 2050.
So, metal straws are a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing our impact on the environment. The issue, however, has to do with sustainability rather than the material itself. Plastic is hard to get rid of since it is not biodegradable. It stays around for decades and pollutes the land and oceans.
Instead of damaging the environment via physical waste, producing metal straws costs more energy and emits much more carbon dioxide than plastic production. Studies showed that the embodied energy of metal straws (the total energy required to produce them) is higher than that of plastic straws. This is because metal straws need to be mined, transported and smelted before they can be turned into straws.
The Pros and Cons of Metal Straws
Some arguments in favor and against the use of metal straws are as follows:
- Metal straws can be reused multiple times, which reduces waste.
- Unlike plastic straws, metal straws don’t release harmful chemicals into the environment.
- Metal straws can be recycled and used for other products as well.
- Metal straws are usually made from stainless steel, which is a resource-intensive material to produce.
- Metal straws can cause bacterial infections if you do not clean them well.
- The extraction process for metals uses fossil fuels that add to the growing global warming issue.
Taking This Initiative and Making a Difference
Although metal straws help reduce plastic waste, we need to make sure their production is not another money-making opportunity but is limited to meeting the needs of the people. A good option would be to apply the same concept but use recycled and biodegradable materials to make these straws, such as paper, hemp and even bamboo. By taking one step in the right direction by using metal straws instead of plastic, we need to consider sustainability and long-term resources to see whether this is a feasible option.