Should we ban plastic straws?


Picture sourced from National Geographic

Grace O'Neil, Staff Writer

Should we ban plastic straws?


Plastic straws, once a modern day commodity, are now considered an environmental hazard and the topic of their use has become controversial. Many environmental activists wish to ban plastic straws in order to save the oceans and the turtles. Instead of using plastic straws, metal straws or paper straws are being marketed as viable substitutes so more plastic doesn’t end up in the oceans. Starbucks has already taken one billion plastic straws out of stores worldwide, and California passed a bill that restaurants should only offer plastic straws upon request.


To ban:

There is a serious problem of plastics in the ocean, with an approximate 150 million metric tons in our oceans currently, according to the Ocean Conservancy. Some of these plastics, including straws, are then swallowed, or otherwise become attached, to sea creatures. This is apparent by the infamous photo of the sea turtle that had a straw stuck in its nose, prompting this worldwide phenomenon.  Alternative straw supporter Abigail Burns says, “ I’ve heard we accumulate 127 school buses full of plastic straws every day. That’s insane. 

Or not to ban:

Though there is a problem with plastic in the ocean, only 0.025% of that plastic is from straws. Banning them would not cause a dent in the issue of plastic waste in the ocean. Some alternatives, like the paper straws, are less durable, while others, like the metal straws, aren’t as convenient. Rather than banning plastic straws outright, we should instead find a better way of disposing of them. The same goes for items such as plastic bottles which have an 80% likelihood to wind up in the ocean, or plastic bags which kill about 100,000 marine animals annually. Plastic straw supporter Gabby Brustle says “there are better ways to clean up our oceans and plastic straws make up such a small amount of plastics in the ocean whereas plastic bags and bottles are more of an issue.” Though she agrees they should be more biodegradable, she feels banning plastic straws would be a pointless endeavor.


Despite what people think is the correct approach, everyone can agree that something must be done to clear our oceans. Whether or not straws are banned, it is a necessary first few steps we must take to clean our oceans and save the turtles.