While issues of global warming are often debated openly in the mainstream media, the same news organizations rarely acknowledge the catastrophic events surrounding plastic waste that is currently occurring right before our very eyes.
Approximately 31% of the cumulative plastic pollution is caused by mass-produced food containers and wrappings. An estimated 16% is derived from plastic bottles and bottle caps, while another 11% comes from plastic bags. Meanwhile, plastic straws and stir sticks account for just over 8% of the total.
Based on recent analysis of the garbage collected on the coastlines of the United States over the past 5 years, scientists now estimate that an approximate 7.5 million plastic straws lie on America’s shorelines at any given moment. They calculate that another 437 million (up to 8.3 billion) plastic straws are currently polluting the beaches and coastlines across the entire world.
Now, why are plastic straws such a huge target for environmentalists? Aren’t they a significantly smaller part of the overall problem? In truth, it’s the fact that they are so small that makes them such a big problem.
Even the most eco-friendly enthusiasts tend to forget to recycle their plastic straws. Due to their size and lightweight structure, many straws never make it through the mechanical recycling sorters used by office buildings, restaurants, and other businesses.
As a result, they often end up in the garbage bin, which allows them to make their way into the world’s oceans, waterways, and soil. Then, unlike edible drinking straws, they lie unharmed for decades and decades, causing problems. But more on that in a bit.