The Plastic That Will Destroy Our Planet Is Not a Plastic Straw

The Plastic That Will Destroy Our Planet Is Not a Plastic Straw July 22, 2018

Plastic Garbage


A few days ago I wrote a piece on why the Plastic Straw Ban angered me as a mother raising a child with a disability.

The response to this piece is a mix – I either hate the environment, or I am a champion for individuals with disabilities.

Either way, my point in the piece was there are other ways to reduce our consumption of plastic straws without banning the straws outright.

The debate that I witnessed on Social Media and my article prompted me to consider more options for what we can do to be responsible consumers.

First, my goal in the piece was not to be a turtle and environment hating monger, but it was to provide insight about how these straws are valuable for people with disabilities.

We can still be kind to the environment without harming people that depend on the straws to meet fundamental human needs.

Alternatives for straws are available, but many of these straws are not positionable, dissolve and pose choking threats, respond to heat and cold, and are cost prohibitive for individuals that live on fixed incomes.

Numerous people recommended plant-based flex straws as an alternative to plastic straws.


PLA and bio-plastics can only biodegrade in an environment with no oxygen and temperatures that exceed 140 degrees for ten days. Few places in the world would meet this requirement.

After it biodegrades, it still leaves a harmful residue of microparticles that pollute the environment. These particles affect life at the bottom of the food chain.

These straws will not compost in home or backyard systems. They are not marine bio-degradable.

However, these straws are the same as plastic straws in their damage to the environment.

At this time affordable and practical options don’t exist, and we can’t ban plastic straws all together.

Plastic straws are absolutely an issue in the ocean. I also agree that our planet’s health is of significant importance.

I’m a mom and I want the planet around for when my son grows older.

However, by analyzing the consumption of plastic and the biggest impact it has on the environment there is a bigger enemy.

The Plastic Water Bottle.

Plastic water bottles are the number one plastic item in our planet’s oceans.

More alarming than the litter is the amount of energy we use to make the bottles.

According to Ban The Bottle, we use 17 million barrels of oil annually to meet the demands of America’s consumption of bottled water.

The amount of oil used to make these bottles could fuel more than 1.3 million cars annually.

We can power more than 190,000 homes with the same energy we use to bottle water.

According to Forbes, we will purchase 1 million bottles of water per minute around the globe.

91% of these bottles end up in landfills.

Forbes also estimates that this consumption of water bottles will mean by 2050 there will be more weight of plastic in the ocean than fish.

Plastic bottles take on average 400 years to decompose. There is no sign of the planet decreasing their use of bottled water.

There is no bigger threat to our fish and aquatic wildlife than the plastic bottle.

Interestingly, many people purchase bottled water under the assumption that the water is higher in quality than tap water.

However, according to Ban the Bottle, 24% of bottled water is distributed by Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani.

Both of these brands are tap water.

Another misconception about bottled water is that it is safer for consumption than tap water.

Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Resource Defense Council, told the New York Times that there is no reason to believe bottled water is safer than municipal tap water.

In fact, public drinking water is much more stringently monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency than bottled water is by the Food and Drug Administration.

Data suggests the water we consume from bottled water is the same as what we get from the tap.

Tap water we drink has more regulations than bottled water.

There are financial benefits to decreasing your dependence on bottled water.

According to Ban the Bottle, the recommended consumption of 8 glasses of water a day from the tap would cost you $.49 a year.

Conversely, if you purchase that same amount in the bottled water, you will spend $1400 a year on the water.

In summary, plastic water bottles are the number one plastic polluter to our ocean and landfills.

The water you get in these bottles is no better than what we get from tap water.

Plastic Bottled water is more expensive than using tap water.

The time we use to “Ban the Straw” is better spent by finding safe alternatives.

Clearly, in some parts of the world, the water supply is poor and bottled water may be the most reliable option.

We must work to better educate people about the importance of recycling plastic.

The Conversation points out that increasing foreign aid from developed countries to the developing world could help these countries manage the plastic waste that is ravaging their countries.

What can you do?

  1. Don’t use a plastic straw if you don’t need one
  2. If you use a plastic straw, wash the straw and reuse multiple time
  3. Find safe alternatives for reuseable straws
  4. Reduce your consumption of Bottled water
  5. Recycle the water bottle after consumption
  6. Purchase a reusable BPA free water bottle and carry water with you
  7. Purchase a water filter for your tap if you are concerned about water quality

We are all responsible for our use of plastic.

Change is possible by being smarter in our consumption, using alternatives to plastic, and recycling the plastic we use.

As a society, we must be able to provide affordable alternatives for populations that rely on plastic.

Plastic straws are contributing to our plastic pollution.

However, our biggest enemy to the environment is the plastic bottled water.

Put down the plastic water bottle.

Go to the cupboard grab a cup, and get your water from the tap.


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  • Jim Jones

    Elkay® ezH2O® Next Generation Water Bottle Refilling Stations

    Elkay’s new line of Next Generations enhanced water bottle refilling stations feature an updated look with a new visual monitor area, for ease of viewing. (It has a counter of bottles filled for virtue signalling.)

  • are you selling these or simply trying to provide an option? These are used at my son’s hospital and they are awesome.

  • Jim Jones

    One of my local libraries has one. It replaced an earlier plain fountain.

    I prefer a refillable bottle because I can load it up with ice cubes.

  • Ah yes, these fountains are pretty cool. I like to see how many plastic bottles were saved by using the fountain. 🙂 I use a BPA reuseable cup I bought at target – it has a silicone straw. It’s with me ALL day.

  • WallofSleep

    “The response to this piece is a mix – I either hate the environment, or I am a champion for individuals with disabilities.”

    Funny, you just sounded like a frustrated mom to me. 😉

  • WallofSleep
  • I am a frustrated mom! All I want are options that help my kid to still be available until something better is made that he can use.

  • Sinks are amazing, huh? You can get water out of them. who knew?!

  • WallofSleep

    I usually just fill mine about halfway and throw it in the freezer. Once it starts to get “funky”, the bottle goes in the recycling bin.

  • WallofSleep

    Sometimes you can even get it to come out hot. I almost feel like I’m living in the future sometimes.

  • It’s pretty incredible there are options outside of spending $1.50 at the gas station for water. I mean imagine the money we’d save 😉

  • I have an ice maker – so I have a plethora of ice in the house. I’ve been using the same reusable cup for at least 6 months.

  • WallofSleep

    I buy them from time to time when I’m out and about (summers are brutal around here), but I save them and refill them.

  • there are times it’s unavoidable for sure. We always reuse bottles when possible, and bottles are always recycled in our home.

  • Jim Jones

    I like to add chilled water. And filling water bottles from a regular fountain is often difficult.

  • Jim Jones

    I see Walmart sells a combination cup with straw.

  • I have a cup with a straw that I use daily. It has a lid so it’s easy to fill when we are out and about. We spend a lot of time at the hospital, and I can easily fill my cup from a fountain. I always have it with me anytime we have overnight stays in the hospital as well.

  • WallofSleep

    Thankfully the city I live in makes it super easy to recycle, and yet people still put recyclables in the garbage, or more frustratingly, put garbage in the recycle bin.

  • When I see recyclable items in the trash, I always take it out and place it in a recycle bin. I have no shame and don’t care about the germs.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    *hands you a bottle of hand sanitizer*

  • Thanks for having my back!!!!

  • Morgan Lefaye

    I got three of those things at CVS for $3. It has the straw built into the handle.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    You’re welcome!

  • I’ve got dozens of bottles here for when you run out 😉

  • boneheadaudio

    Toronto has awesome tap water. I drink 2+ Litres every day!!

  • That is awesome! Tap water is the best! And after finding out most bottled water is from a tap – I realize how foolish I had been in buying it.

  • Trellia

    I love those. There are some at the zoo and at the university where I work.

  • WallofSleep

    And sadly it’s still gonna taste better than the tap water (hard water area) in my city. 🙁

    I finally got used to the taste though, after a little more than a decade.

  • WallofSleep
  • Rubicon

    Excellent article. If nothing else, as mentioned elsewhere, the 500 M/Day straw thing is very overstated. Not to say it isn’t a problem at all but it’s merely of a piece of a much larger problem including things like water bottles, bags or over-packaging in general marketing..

  • Yes! As I was digging through my groceries, and unpacking my son’s medical equipment I realized how much plastic is in our home. It’s impossible to avoid. Food is packaged in it, everything you buy has plastic around, toys are made of it, etc. His medical equipment is a whole different level of crazy. The dependence we have on plastic is far bigger than a straw. The true impact will not be seen by reducing straws but evaluating our dependence on a product that uses so much energy to produce and never biodegrades

  • DingoJack

    I think you mean:
    3. Find safe alternatives for non-reuseable straws

  • DogGone
  • thank you for the find!

  • Yes, not all drinking water is safe. However, most water is safe.

  • DingoJack

    It can happen to anyone (especially me) when you lose focus.

  • DogGone

    The point of the article was that most problems are not reported, so you really don’t know whether your water is safe or not. If you are living with someone vulnerable, you can buy filtered water in cooler containers or have it delivered.

  • Thanks for the tip!

  • Insomnus

    In the UK there are tons of laws governing the purity of tap water. I don’t think there is very much at all governing bottled water. My problem is I want pure rainwater, not aquifer water, water that’s been through a spring or filtered through lime/chalk is too hard and Alkaline for me. I live in an old English spa town, people have been coming here for a very long time to ‘Take the Waters’. It’s still available – and utterly disgusting to drink.
    You can pick up a reverse osmosis set pretty cheaply these days, although the water has a strange ‘none-taste’.

  • that is absolutely fascinating! What do they do with the water once they take it?

  • Steven Klein

    Thank you for your excellent article.

    The Eco Connect Bottle® System is a simple patented technology that addresses the critical global problem of how to reduce the more than one billion durable plastic containers a day that are not currently being recycled. They are destined to spend the next 400-500 years littering our streets, landfills and waterways after only a single use.

    Since many nations do little or no recycling, more needs to be done.

    The Eco Connect Bottle® System’s patented container coupling technology connects any brand’s empty single-serve water bottles to each other, utilizing a proprietary connecting recess molded into the bottle’s base, and to a variety of functional, threaded connector pieces.

    This simple technology enables the connected bottles to be constructed into an unlimited number of useful household items giving them a new purpose (repurposing), and a new life as something else…like tables, storage cubes, toys and even building insulation.

    The empties can be re-purposed “as is,” and will provide every end-user with a new, rewarding, sustainable, hands-on option to reduce plastic waste, in addition to traditional recycling. In countries without a recycling program, re-purposing the empties may be the only option to effectively reduce plastic water bottle waste.

    Eco Connect Bottles® support The Circular Economy and Extended Producer Responsibility. Many water brands already own machines that can produce the Eco Connect Bottle’s® proprietary connecting base, without changing their recognizable package design.

    The Eco Connect Bottle® System’s inventive re-purposing option has multiple benefits for end-users, the planet and the victims of a natural disaster

  • Rennyrij

    “…grab a cub….”?!!! You mean, that bear up the hill is storing her kids in my cupboard?

    Seriously, though, several of our local Sr. Citizens with special needs have noted that they depend on the plastic straws. Between the shaking syndromes and other disabilities that some older (and some who are not so old) people have to deal with, the larger diameter plastic straws fill a definite need. Having a flexible “neck” on the straw is even more helpful, especially when a person cannot sit up straight. What we have here is a situation where some lazy legislators are trying to put down a “Blanket Law”, to cover everybody, and that NEVER, NEVER WORKS – we are all different, have different needs, and there are and always will be exceptions which MUST be provided for.

    If you have tap water, get it tested now and again – I mean, out of your faucet. If even a few of the people in Flint, Michigan, had done that, they’d have caught their problem a lot earlier. I have well water and get it tested, through the county / state agriculture office. It may not be the cheapest thing you ever did, but it might be one of the smartest things.

  • Great points!

  • Insomnus

    I believe it soaks through the stomach lining into the bloodstream, where it is taken around the body of the ‘Taker’ and absorbed through ‘Osmosis’ into the cells. The alkaline content (largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates) is also absorbed.

  • interesting. So they drink the water. Well I hope they feel hydrated! 😉


    I’m a disabled guy using an electric wheelchair. I have the same problem with needing to always have something to drink with me. I tried a number of things to be able to carry water with me easily and to KEEP IT COLD. I finally found not a standard water bottle but a thing called a Bubba Keg. Essentially, it looks like a small keg with a full handle, and is insulated so you can put ice in it and it stays cold for fairly long periods. I found that making a small chunk of solid ice that fits into the keg works better than crushed ice–although you could use that as well. Then I fill it with my favorite cold drink (water, soda, whatever), and due to it being well insulated, it will stay cold for around 24 hours. This thing has a wide lid so you can put in ice chunks, fruit, etc. It has a sealing flip-open drinking hole that easily takes a straw. The handle is solid and thick, easy to hold. I use a strap to attach the handle to my chair so if the keg falls, I can retrieve it easily. This model holds about 48 ounces. I found this thing at Target in the automotive department some time ago, and they still have them. The company is on-line, and these days they have many other models of travel cups and bottles. Their items are very strong and durable, and prices are very reasonable. This is a great product for the disabled and not, and you can take your own straw as well. I understand the plastics issue and agree with the problems, but as this author stated, not all of us are the same with the same abilities. My beef with this subject is that the “do-gooders” are zeroing in on straws only–so what the heck are we supposed to drink our drinks with? Try handing a toddler a cup without a lid and see what happens. Before this straw ban went into place, an eco-friendly alternative should have been mandatory first. Anyway, check Bubba Kegs out instead of just a waterbottle. I’ve had mine for at least 15 years, and it works very well, straw and all. Hope this helps.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience! I will keep the Bubba Keg in mind! It sounds like an amazing product. I’m so glad you have something that works for you 🙂