Should Plastic Straws Be Banned?

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Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, and Disney theme parks all recently decided to ditch plastic straws. These companies are joining a global movement to reduce plastic waste.

Plastic straws are single-use. That means people throw them away after using them only once. The straws easily get blown out of trash cans. Along with other single-use plastics, straws often end up in the sea. Experts say as much as 9 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year.

Getting rid of plastic straws is one way to help. Starbucks plans to replace them with straws made of paper and other materials that are better for the environment. The company says it will eliminate 1 billion plastic straws each year worldwide.

But other experts argue that straws are only a small part of our plastic waste problem. By one estimate, plastic straws make up less than half of 1 percent of the plastic in the ocean.

Plus, for a lot of people, life without plastic straws can be dangerous. Many people with injuries or disabilities have a hard time drinking safely from a cup without a bendable plastic straw.  

Here’s what two of our readers think.

We should ban plastic straws to help protect the ocean. Experts predict that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic in the water breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics. These bits of plastic release chemicals that are harmful to humans and marine wildlife.

Plus, sea animals often mistake larger pieces of plastic for food. They can choke or get sick from eating them.

Plastic straws also litter streets and parks, as well as beaches.

Plastic straws make up a tiny percentage of the plastic in the ocean. Experts should focus instead on solutions for other types of plastic that harm marine life. They include fishing nets and plastic bags.

Also, plastic straws are priceless to people who can’t lift a cup. Paper straws can dissolve in your drink. Metal straws can burn people who are drinking hot liquids.

Paper straws are also bad for the environment. Making them requires cutting down trees.

What do you think?
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