Why Your Re-usable Straw Isn’t Saving The Planet

I consider myself to be some-what of a greenie.

I often worry about how much rubbish we create as a species and what sort of a world we are going to live in in 20 or 50 years time. I also try to do my part to minimize my own rubbish output but I am by no means even close to living a low waste lifestyle.

So why do I find myself so irritated when all I seem to read and hear about are people and companies who are saving the planet with their re-usable straws?

I’ll tell you why….

Its because everyone seems to be jumping on the ban-all-straws bandwagon and I feel like its often at the expense of bringing awareness to how much rubbish is produced in other areas of their lives/businesses.

Bloomberg News suggests that on a global scale, straws would probably only account for 0.03 percent of total plastic waste by mass.

I understand that straws are supposed to act as a “gateway” ban to hopefully make people think about reducing plastic in other areas of their lives but I’m not sure that it always has that effect.

I’m sure you have all had the same experience of seeing a person using a re-usable straw in their single-use plastic smoothie cup? This seems crazy to me!

Almost as crazy as how most supermarkets in my city have banned single use grocery bags (yay for the first step!) but they are still wrapping single pieces of fruit and veg in plastic and their shelves are laden with plastic wrapped items.

Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash

Admittedly every time someone makes an effort to avoid single use plastic in any form (including using a steel straw), its a great thing for them to do and its contributing to reducing our overall waste. So no, I’m not trying to throw shade at anyone who is trying to do their part — If you are trying to reduce your waste in any way, you are amazing! 💛 . On the contrary, I am trying to open up what I consider to be an important discussion. Just because you are using a re-usable straw doesn't mean you should stop there with your waste reducing efforts.

So…what else can you do to reduce waste and save the animals? 🐢

Composting

Composting is something that doesn't get enough credit in my opinion. I’m lucky enough to live in Auckland NZ where we have free composting workshops.

I went along to one of these workshops and It blew my mind and changed the way I thought about food waste forever!

In my city 50% of our household rubbish is compostable and 40% of that rubbish comes from the kitchen. If your kitchen waste is thrown into landfill with the rest of your rubbish, its not going to break down and even if it does it will release terrible methane gas.

You can simply compost these food scraps and use them to grow beautiful plants in your garden.

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Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

I use the Bokashi system and its amazing! you can throw almost all kitchen scraps into it — even cooked food and it’s great for people who don't have a lot of room for a massive compost bin — you can even keep this one inside.

Buy in Bulk

As I mentioned above, so many of the products we need to buy at the supermarket are wrapped in plastic and its easy to avoid some of this if you have access to bulk food shops.

I understand that shopping in bulk isn’t accessible for everyone depending on where you live and your budget. Shopping in bulk can sometimes be way more expensive than buying your regular supermarket items. However in some cases it can be a lot cheaper and you can save the 🌏 while your at it!

Along with buying things like rice, lentils, nuts, pasta and other food products in bulk, you can quite often find things like laundry powder and dish washing liquid in bulk shops too. I have been using the same container for my laundry powder and dish washing liquid for years! I can simply get them refilled or take them back to the shop and exchange the containers for new ones (depending on the product). It’s actually really handy shopping this way as I buy such large quantities that I almost never run out.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Yes its that simple.

Reduce — You could try some of the options I have suggested above to reduce your waste as well as using reusable cutlery, straws and coffee cups. Using cloths to mop up spills instead of paper towels or not jumping to to buy every new piece of technology that’s available.

Reuse — you could try using old clothes as rags or donating them to charity shops. Don’t throw away things you don’t use anymore, give them to friends or sell them online.

Recycle — please recycle your rubbish when you are able to, the more we can recycle, the less space we use in landfills.

Remember we need to take care of this planet so that future generations of humans and animals can enjoy it as we have! 🐳

Written by

Hi Im Holly! I’m from New Zealand. I’m in my first job as a Front End Web Developer and want to share my learnings and thoughts along the way!

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