Is banning plastic straws really a good idea? Watch

iseesparksfly
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Please read my article https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/lif...ly-a-good-idea

I'd love feedback and to start a discussion about it here!
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Zarek
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I tend to agree in the scheme of things plastic straw wastage is pretty minor and its not really any more gratuitious than many other single use plastics. Plastic, when we establish some proper recycling will be on a power or better than other packaging. I see no harm tough in reducing the use of plastic straws by promoting sensible alternatives. Dont agree with branding metal and paper straws as an allergy risk.
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Ciel.
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(Original post by Zarek)
I tend to agree in the scheme of things plastic straw wastage is pretty minor and its not really any more gratuitious than many other single use plastics. Plastic, when we establish some proper recycling will be on a power or better than other packaging. I see no harm tough in reducing the use of plastic straws by promoting sensible alternatives. Dont agree with branding metal and paper straws as an allergy risk.
They obviously need to start somewhere.
"Of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015, only 9 percent was recycled."......
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Obolinda
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It's a good article
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username4470000
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I don't agree with recycling. I like the idea but the reality when shop in a super market, everything is wrapped in plastic. The amount of waste is huge. So banning straws or bags, Wont make much difference unless a massive cultural change is attempted.

Also our societies never do the massive under taking to do what is nessary. If we are serious. Have to think big. Stop corperations upgrading hardware, Every new phone for example creates a old model than is thrown away. I don't think we as a species really care, some try to believe they do. But the problem is so huge, so much waste. The feel good notions of removing straws or bags like farting in the wind, trying to stop a hurricane
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Zarek
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(Original post by Ciel.)
They obviously need to start somewhere.
"Of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015, only 9 percent was recycled."......
Yes, alarming, and needs to change. And at some point however we will probably have to face up to a need to consume less nice to have rather need to have resources..
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username4454836
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Most of the reasons against alternative straws would apply to plastic ones but obviously that doesn't suit the argument.

Ban them.
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kpwxx
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This is a well written article! I have already read a lot of this and agree with you very much. It's great that you're spreading the word.

There are so so so many things we could do to reduce plastic use and/or help preserve our environment in other ways. Reduction of waste by large corporations would be my number one thing, fishing nets contribute hugely to ocean waste from what I've read, and there are lots of instances of plastic use for consumers that is NOT an item designed for accessibility - for example, cotton bud stems, balloon sticks, coffee and cocktail stirrers, plastic wrap around tins and tubs that adds literally nothing to the packaging. Other times, usage could be reduced very easily - for example, instead of having cutlery included in a meal-to-go, have a tub of cutlery nearby that people can take only if they need it.

Yet people seem to have latched onto straws as this thing they need to do, without knowing or considering the effects on disabled people. I've seen places who've switched to paper straws (which imo you may as well just not have a straw, as they dissolve so quickly and paper is still waste) yet they'll have plastic stirrers still? Straws have become the poster child for plastic reduction, and I get it because it is easy to agree with, I myself used to before learning about the impact on disabled people. But in reality the focus would be much better spent elsewhere. Also, disabled people's lives matter!!

I really like your suggestion of having two options for consumers to choose from. At the end of the day, we should each be taking responsibility for doing what we are able to to reduce waste. I myself don't take disposable straws any more where the drink I have doesn't need one, and I also have reusable ones for when it does need one (when I remember to have them with me...). But that's because I can. If someone needs a straw, let them have a straw!!!!
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ByEeek
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(Original post by username4470000)
I don't agree with recycling. I like the idea but the reality when shop in a super market, everything is wrapped in plastic. The amount of waste is huge. So banning straws or bags, Wont make much difference unless a massive cultural change is attempted.
If things weren't wrapped in plastic waste would be even higher because the plastic gives food a longer shelf life and we already discard a third of the food we grow. My objection is that most of the plastic waste generated by supermarkets can not be recycled. Every two weeks, we fill one small wheelie bin of rubbish. About 70% - 90% of that is waste plastic from food wrapping. Banning straws is a superb idea. They are unnecessary and when you hear about how many millions of straws places like McDonnalds get through in a year, you suddenly realise that it isn't quite the drop in the ocean we might think.
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iseesparksfly
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(Original post by ByEeek)
If things weren't wrapped in plastic waste would be even higher because the plastic gives food a longer shelf life and we already discard a third of the food we grow. My objection is that most of the plastic waste generated by supermarkets can not be recycled. Every two weeks, we fill one small wheelie bin of rubbish. About 70% - 90% of that is waste plastic from food wrapping. Banning straws is a superb idea. They are unnecessary and when you hear about how many millions of straws places like McDonnalds get through in a year, you suddenly realise that it isn't quite the drop in the ocean we might think.
Did you even read the article...
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ThomH97
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Your article focuses on a very niche problem, but portrays it as a general problem.

For the content of your article, I think the first solution you dismiss is the most viable, whether or not plastic straws are banned. If you know you're going to need a straw, you should bring your own just in case the place doesn't have any to your liking, has run out or whatever. If you're that disabled you need a straw to enjoy an evening out, packing several straws should be as matter of course as grabbing your keys.

Paper straws are indeed rubbish, but I think it's a bit harsh to claim they (and pasta/rice and biodegradable straws) dissolve with long use if they're designed to be disposable.
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Arran90
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Primary schools throw away millions of plastic straws every year along with an almost equal number of empty milk cartons.
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josh75
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No not at all, it just puts me off environmentalism for nothing. The issue with plastic in the ocean is that plastic consumer goods from china, india and other 2nd and 3rd world countries get dumped into the ocean because there is so much corruption in their rubbish disposal industries. These big products then break apart and are eaten by marine life which poisons them or causes them to choke. Plastic straws in general only make up a tiny percentage of these pieces being eaten due to straws being so light and small, but we don't even dump our plastic garbage in the ocean. Thus again the environmentalist have proven to me that they do just hate humanity.
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bloomer36
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Why are only plastic straws being discriminated against? Where's the equality?

If you're going to ban plastic straws might as well ban every other plastic thing along with it.
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iseesparksfly
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(Original post by bloomer36)
Why are only plastic straws being discriminated against? Where's the equality?

If you're going to ban plastic straws might as well ban every other plastic thing along with it.
Well... yeah. Other plastics are a bigger issue, plastic straws are 0.03% of the waste whereas 46% is fishing nets - it seems obvious which should be focused on more, and yet that's not how it is.
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Obolinda
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(Original post by iseesparksfly)
Well... yeah. Other plastics are a bigger issue, plastic straws are 0.03% of the waste whereas 46% is fishing nets - it seems obvious which should be focused on more, and yet that's not how it is.
It's cos straws are much easier to ditch. You'd have to find a suitable replacement for plastic fishing nets.
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nexttime
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The article is well written and well researched, but honestly the whole premise is nonsense.

The problems you are describing are rare and can be worked around. For example, I assure you that there is no disabled person who only feeds via straw and is somehow dependent on store-provided plastic straws. There certainly are people who find it easier to use straws - a significant coordination problem for instance - but the number that will be significantly inconvenienced by it being paper rather than plastic? Can't imagine its many. And if you have a paper allergy... well don't use a ****ing straw! Saving the environment is going to require some sacrifice by use all the sacrifice required for this particular specific action is barely perceivable.

These are not real problems, whereas plastic waste is, and this is a first, tiny step towards addressing it.

(Original post by josh75)
No not at all, it just puts me off environmentalism for nothing. The issue with plastic in the ocean is that plastic consumer goods from china, india and other 2nd and 3rd world countries get dumped into the ocean because there is so much corruption in their rubbish disposal industries. These big products then break apart and are eaten by marine life which poisons them or causes them to choke. Plastic straws in general only make up a tiny percentage of these pieces being eaten due to straws being so light and small, but we don't even dump our plastic garbage in the ocean. Thus again the environmentalist have proven to me that they do just hate humanity.
They may only be a tiny part of the problem, but plastic straw waste is still bad right? They still take up space in landfill and some does enter the oceans. And they're completely unnecessary. If its so inconsequential, why are you so against it?!

It says a lot about humanity's ability to save the environment that banning straws, a tiny convenience that has easy alternatives, is such a controversial issue that somehow still hasn't bee implemented! How on Earth are we going to do the actual difficult stuff if we can't do this? We're all doomed.
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That'sGreat
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Seems a bit like what you write in a GCSE English Language paper.

Just use paper, when did paper become such a kryptonite for the disabled?

"Paper: Allergy risk, choking hazard, not positionable, not hot liquid safe and dissolve long use."
- Allergies, barely anyone is allergic to paper and you do realise people will be allergic to the plastic as well? Likely more so than those allergic to paper
- Choking hazard, have you used a paper straw before? They don't just fall apart. And I'd argue paper is safer than plastic as if someone doesn't have the full control over their mouth or such, scraping a plastic straw against you mouth will hurt more than a paper straw
- Not positionable, except they are so...
- Not hot liquid safe, sure, but food outlets will usually serve coffee, hot chocolates etc. in cups with a lid that doesn't even allow for a straw to fit. Saying that, paper straws can be used for and withstand hot liquid, so this is a false statement
- Dissolve long use, how long do you intend to spend drinking? Unless you're sticking the straw into a 1 litre bottle of water, it won't dissolve.

The minority of disabled people (which in turn is a minority) who can't use paper straws is so insignificant compared to the impact a total change to paper straws could have. It's like having a small coffee shop in some remote area with a couple stairs going up it and demanding the shop builds a ramp or lift. You can't cater to everyones needs.
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Arran90
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I estimate that 3 out of 4 plastic straws are used by under 16 year olds. Adults rarely use straws and there is something that doesn't look right about an adult using a straw in a public setting.
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kpwxx
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(Original post by That'sGreat)
Seems a bit like what you write in a GCSE English Language paper.

Just use paper, when did paper become such a kryptonite for the disabled?

"Paper: Allergy risk, choking hazard, not positionable, not hot liquid safe and dissolve long use."
- Allergies, barely anyone is allergic to paper and you do realise people will be allergic to the plastic as well? Likely more so than those allergic to paper
- Choking hazard, have you used a paper straw before? They don't just fall apart. And I'd argue paper is safer than plastic as if someone doesn't have the full control over their mouth or such, scraping a plastic straw against you mouth will hurt more than a paper straw
- Not positionable, except they are so...
- Not hot liquid safe, sure, but food outlets will usually serve coffee, hot chocolates etc. in cups with a lid that doesn't even allow for a straw to fit. Saying that, paper straws can be used for and withstand hot liquid, so this is a false statement
- Dissolve long use, how long do you intend to spend drinking? Unless you're sticking the straw into a 1 litre bottle of water, it won't dissolve.

The minority of disabled people (which in turn is a minority) who can't use paper straws is so insignificant compared to the impact a total change to paper straws could have. It's like having a small coffee shop in some remote area with a couple stairs going up it and demanding the shop builds a ramp or lift. You can't cater to everyones needs.
As far as I understand, the main serious risk associated with lack of access to a straw or using one that's not suitable is aspiration, which can lead to pneumonia. It's quite hard to find stats on this but it absolutely is a real risk for many people and to suggest otherwise is frankly quite insulting to those people. There's a reason that straws are very commonly used in hospitals.

Also, paper straws absolutely do just fall apart, for the record. I had to use about 4 or 5 straws to drink a single small sized slush puppy once, because the straw kept clogging up with gloopy paper and did not function as a straw after that point. I've also never seen a positionable paper straw (the only positionable alternative straw types are bio-plastic or multi-use plastic, as far as I've seen). I'm wondering if you've seen or used a paper straw?

So your argument in effect is that the people who would be harmed or die because of a straw ban are not worth worrying about, because there are a minority? We're not talking forcing everyone to use a straw here. You and any other person who doesn't need a straw could simply not use one. Ta-da! Planet saved (?) without banning an essential tool that others need. This is how we get on and progress as a society, by considering the needs of those other than ourselves.

Sorry I got a bit frosty there but the topic just really works me up. If someone doesn't know about or hasn't considered issues a straw ban might cause for people then that's one thing - easy to do in our society and I have been guilty of this myself - but when someone openly says I would rather ban straws and have people die or become seriously ill, I just think of how someone who would be affected would feel. Think of something that you need to get by (something that you may have workarounds for, you may get by without, but also your quality of life will suffer a lot without and you have a chance of dying because you don't have it). Now imagine you ask for it and are ridiculed for being a horrible person, you explain that it's putting your life at risk, that you need it, and someone tells you 'Your life isn't important enough to factor into this'.

(Original post by Arran90)
I estimate that 3 out of 4 plastic straws are used by under 16 year olds. Adults rarely use straws and there is something that doesn't look right about an adult using a straw in a public setting.
If you need a straw then you need a straw, regardless of your age. It's not a fashion item, it's a tool to help you drink.
(Original post by nexttime)
The article is well written and well researched, but honestly the whole premise is nonsense.

The problems you are describing are rare and can be worked around. For example, I assure you that there is no disabled person who only feeds via straw and is somehow dependent on store-provided plastic straws. There certainly are people who find it easier to use straws - a significant coordination problem for instance - but the number that will be significantly inconvenienced by it being paper rather than plastic? Can't imagine its many. And if you have a paper allergy... well don't use a ****ing straw! Saving the environment is going to require some sacrifice by use all the sacrifice required for this particular specific action is barely perceivable.

These are not real problems, whereas plastic waste is, and this is a first, tiny step towards addressing it.



They may only be a tiny part of the problem, but plastic straw waste is still bad right? They still take up space in landfill and some does enter the oceans. And they're completely unnecessary. If its so inconsequential, why are you so against it?!

It says a lot about humanity's ability to save the environment that banning straws, a tiny convenience that has easy alternatives, is such a controversial issue that somehow still hasn't bee implemented! How on Earth are we going to do the actual difficult stuff if we can't do this? We're all doomed.
The point of referencing the extremely low percentage of plastic ocean waste that is straws is that it would be more reasonable to focus efforts on a much larger issue, in a way that doesn't harm or kill people. If we had eradicated say, all fishing net waste and all pointless plastic like wrappers that are purely cosmetic, takeaway cups for cafe customers who dine in, etc and we have a public awareness campaign to stop people who don't need straws using them (along with not publicly harassing disabled people which is already happening because of straw bans), and then we're still finding that plastic waste in the oceans is a huge problem, then maybe we look again at the issue and look harder for alternative solutions, but we're nowhere near that point and I don't think ever will be.

I know what you mean when you say about taking a small step (the whole "you have to start somewhere"/"every little helps" philosophy, which is totally a valid idea) but that argument is usually used when someone's reason for not doing something is 'What's the point, it's a drop in the ocean, this small action will hardly make a difference'. If that's someone's reason for using a straw then absolutely, I agree - start making the difference you want to see! But the argument doesn't really work if the person might get seriously ill or die because of the action...

Also, the point is that it ISN'T such a controversial issue, that's kind of the point. The issue is mostly immediately supported by pretty much everyone (myself included originally before I had considered the impact on disabled people), while disabled people are saying 'But I need a straw' and being ignored. It's not that we can't minimise straw use, it's that we don't want to ban them for people who need them.
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