Plastic or paper? The truth about pipes
The backlash against plastic has led to an increase in the use of paper, metal, glass, plant-based straw. But is the choice between them really that simple?
You've probably run into this problem before: order a smoothie, a decaf, or your Friday night cocktail and it comes in a brightly colored, or brown, paper tube. After they drink a few sips, the straw begins to fall down, to be deformed by the liquid. It also breaks down into pieces if you drink it slowly.
While these cards may not last in the environment for around 300 years like those made of plastic, these paper ones leave a lot to be desired.
A recent study has highlighted another potential concern. By researchers at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, they were found to contain more 'persistent chemicals' - polyfluoroalkyl or PFAS - than plastic. Persistent PFAS can remain in the environment for decades, can contaminate water supplies, and are associated with a variety of health problems.
Even those made of bamboo have PFAS. So the levels of these chemicals once again raise the question, are paper straws the solution?
It is estimated that about 500 million straws are used every day in the US alone. And although estimates of exactly how much ends up in the environment are tricky to confirm, what is clear is that plastic straws are still everywhere. He sees them go to the beach. They have even been found in the stomachs of penguins.
In the oceans, fishing nets are among the most widespread forms of plastic pollution. A study published in 2018 found that 46% of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic estimated to be in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch came from fishing nets.
So why are our pipes the problem?
Why did plastic straws become such an emblem of the problem of plastic pollution if their impact is minimal?
The amount of greenhouse gases released during the life cycle of paper straws has been estimated to be about the same as that of plastic straws.
Let's not talk then about the cutting of the trees needed to create these papers, nor about the taste of the drinks and the aroma that the paper straw totally changes.
What would be the best solution? Drink without a pipe at all!