Paper Straws Suck and Here’s Why!
It's time we stopped fooling around with the ridiculous “War on Conveniences.” If you mustered up the strength to read this much, then you must have shared the unpleasant, and mildly infuriating, experience of drinking from a paper straw. As much as I agree that helping the environment is a good thing, we have to take a step back and reconsider our game plan, especially when it’s a terrible one. If it pleases you, let’s examine why paper is perhaps the most idiotic replacement for plastic.
#1: Paper is Not Waterproof
…and that should really be the end of it. A device, which exists solely to transport liquids from a holding vessel to a mouth, should probably be waterproof. How paper straws made it past the R&D phase of development is a mystery to me, I suspect bribery or threats were involved.
Yes, I know that paper straws work initially without spilling or leaking, you don’t need to tell me in the comments. However, like toasters, they don’t work very well after they've spent some time underwater. Paper straws get mushy, moist, and fragile. If I wanted Starbucks to give me something soggy and inedible, I’d order the eggs.
I have never personally timed it, but estimates for the longevity of the paper straws range around 30 minutes. Is that enough time for you to finish a drink? It isn’t for me! After that, they are useless. So, if you want to continue sucking your caffeinated syrup and sugar slurry, you’re going to need to throw away your current straw and get a new one. We as a society should strive to improve the tools we use daily, not downgrade them.
Also, I don’t know about you folks, but I’m a bit of a straw chewer. It's not the most fashionable of habits, but it's one that I was free to indulge in unashamedly when my drinking apparatus didn’t disintegrate into a pulp after a gentle nibbling. Alas, this is another small pleasure, another minor convenience; one of presumably hundreds of sacrifices that you and I will have to give up so that the mega-corporations can score extra woke points. But, that’s a topic for another blog. Let's proceed to the next point.
#2: Paper Straws are NOT Recyclable
That’s right folks, it’s all been a ruse. According to Netwaste.org and the University of Stanford, most recycling facilities will not accept food-contaminated paper products. That means the whipped cream and cookie crumb-riddled toilet paper tube you’re drinking from is going to the same damn landfill as the plastic straws.
Some paper straws are even coated with non-recyclable materials like wax or plastic. I'm sure the engineer that managed to combine the worst elements of paper and plastic straws into one diabolical sin against nature is very pleased with themselves.
In other instances, paper straws can be too thick to be recycled. This is the case for McDonald's straws in the UK. There is a joke here about everything being too thick when it comes out of McDonald's, but I will not be making it.
#3 Guess What Else They Are Not
But hey, at least paper straws are biodegradable, right? Ha, nope! According to biomasspackaging.com, for something to be considered “biodegradable,” the carbon material of the product has to break down by 60% after 180 days. Under normal circumstances, paper straws can last a lot longer than 180 days. It's only under specific conditions that paper straws fully degrade. Conditions such as being burned or dissolved in acid, I would guess.
Chung Shan-shan, the director of science in environmental and public health management at Baptist University, has discussed this topic thoroughly in their article for Young Post. The meat of what they said is that paper is not the quickly vanishing super-star you may think it is. Apparently, there are 10-15-year-old newspapers still in landfills, some with legible text.
Also, consider this, even if paper did quickly degrade in landfills, how does that help? When something decomposes, it spews out methane gas, which is not a good thing to have expelled into the air.
For more information on the whole bio-plastic, biodegradable rigmarole, go read this blog.
B..b..but the Turtles!
Yes, I've seen the oh-so heart-wrenching pictures of the sea turtles with plastic straws lodged in them. Does my cold heart go out to them? Sure. But, a paper straw is not a friend to sea life. Paper straws are fibrous, meaning when they break down they turn into little soggy bits. Any number of sea-faring animals can then easily swallow these bits. So instead of one hazard, you have thousands of little ones. Quite the improvement, isn’t it?
What’s the Solution?
Well, metal is a good alternative. Frankly, I don’t like those much either. They get too cold/hot, and you have to clean them. Also at that point, why don’t I just bring my own fork and knife to the restaurant? How about my own plate and cup too? But, until technology advances, they are one of the only good alternatives. Bioplastic straws have also proven to be effective, although the legitimacy of their biodegradable claims is under dispute. Starbucks has its sippy cup lids, which are fine unless you have limited mobility or an ounce of self-respect.
If you are a small to a mid-sized business owner, then you can’t run the risk of pissing off your customers by using an inferior product. I suggest you stick with the ecologically questionable, but tried and true answers. You can’t pay the bills with good intentions.
Join the Conversation
Whatever the alternative you use, it’ll surely be better than paper straws. If your reading comprehension skills are up to par, that should be quite clear to you by now. If by chance you feel I am mistaken, I implore you to express yourself in the comments. Your input is greatly desired. Others have voiced there opinions, despite them being ludicrous, so you have nothing to fear!
Well friend, some people don't particularly enjoy the taste of cardboard.
Please McDonalds, this man hasn't seen his dairy in months
Im glad someone said it…
Which one are you taking?