Straws can be a deadly weapon

Aubrey Routte, Staff Writer

Imagine sitting in a restaurant and ordering a drink. When the waiter comes back, she begins to talk about how they will provide a straw if necessary, but she is trying her best to cut plastic straws out. Every straw that is thrown away eventually finds its way to the ocean, said the Napa Valley CanDo website. The straws are slowly killing marine animals along with humans. An estimated one million marine animals, including fish, sharks, turtles, and birds, die each year because of plastic. Even though many animals die, the biggest problem seems to be with turtles.

When a straw ends up in the ocean, it could sit in the water for up to 1,000 years before it even starts to break down. Turtles will find these straws and can get them stuck up their noses, or they eat them because they think they are food. When straws get stuck in the nose of a sea turtle, it causes them to not be able to breathe and they eventually suffocate. If a turtle digests a straw, it will break into small pieces and fill up the turtle’s stomach causing it to die of starvation.

Not only are straws harming sea turtles, these straws can also cause problems for humans. The Washington Post, said, “Drinking sugary or acidic beverages through a straw can increase the likelihood of cavities. Straws send a concentrated stream of liquid toward a small area of the teeth, which can erode enamel and cause tooth decay.” In addition to this, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, straws also put dangerous chemicals into the air, soil, and water that could be deadly to all humans.

Although schools and restaurants provide plastic straws to customers, there have been many states and cities that have put out a ban on plastic straws because of what they are doing to the environment. Mrs. Susan Anderson, seventh grade science teacher, is on both sides of this issue. “I’m kind of torn because I do understand the concern with straws; however, our garbage goes to a landfill, not an ocean. My concern is how long it will take to break down while in a landfill.” So far, Kentucky has not said they will put a ban on the use of straws or not. If they do, not everyone believes it is something necessary. When asked if Kentucky should put a ban on straws, Mrs. Anderson said, “I think they should look at plastic biodegradability overall, not just straws. They need to look at where our products are being put, and I think more research needs to be done before they decide what to do.”

There are many adults that are concerned with this matter, but how do the kids really feel about this situation? While there are many kids that understand the issue, there are many that are not concerned about the issue. Hayden Gessner, sixth grader, chooses to use a plastic straw when at restaurants. “I ask for a straw if a waiter doesn’t give me one with my drink because I like to drink out of a straw,” said Gessner. Lindsey Kempe, eighth grader, also wants to use straws.   Kempe said, “I ask for a straw because I feel like I will spill the drink if I don’t.” Most kids want to use straws because they are used to them. When asked if they want a straw, their first thought isn’t whether or not they will be harming the environment or not. They don’t think about it too much because that is the way it has always been. It is a habit.

While many places are trying to get rid of plastic straws, there are plenty companies that have gone through with it already. Two major companies that have banned straws are Disney and American Airlines. Disney cares a lot about the environment, and they do not want to harm it. NBC News has said, “Disney officials said in a news release Thursday will be placed by mid-2019 and is part of the company’s ‘long standing commitment to environmental stewardship.’” American Airlines has also put a ban on plastic straws and stir sticks in hope to help reduce the amount of plastic waste. “Between its lounges and planes, American Airlines says it believes this will help remove 71,000 pounds of plastic each year from the environment.” said AFAR, a travel website. Along with these companies, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens has also eliminated the use of plastic straws in the area. According to CityBeat, Jordyn Miller, general manager for zoo food and beverage provider Service Systems Associates, said, “Plastic straws can provide a hazard to the animals if they were to get into the exhibit.”

Although straws are not going to end the world anytime soon, they do present problems to wildlife and humans.