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Why Are Plastic Straws Bad For The Environment?

By Kristin Hunt

Between Starbucks, Coachella, and the city of Portland ditching plastic straws, you’ve likely been hearing a lot about straw bans. But why exactly are these straws bad for the environment? 

Plastic straws are a small piece of the larger problem of single-use plastic. Every day, millions of Americans throw out plastic bags, forks, cups, and straws after just one meal or grocery run. Plastics take a much longer time to break down than organic matter, such as apple cores. Some scientists say it could take 500 years for just one plastic bag to decompose — others bump that number up to 1,000.

The environmental impact of plastic straws is well documented. 

Because plastic has a lifecycle that extends long after it’s served any function, single-use products often wind up in landfills or, even worse, the ocean.