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In the United States alone, 500 million straws are used daily, with more than 1.8 billion discarded each year.
And despite the fact that plastic straws are made of recyclable material, they often slip through the cracks of recycling machinery and do not often become recycled.
This results in millions of plastic straws ending up in landfills and in our oceans each month. So, how do you properly dispose of plastic straws?
In this article, we take a look at different methods for disposing of plastic straws and also talk about why plastic straws can’t be simply thrown in your blue bin, and if they can in fact be recycled.
Methods for Disposing of Plastic Straws
Recycling plastic straws is the best way to dispose of them. However, not all recycling facilities accept plastic straws, so it’s important to check with your local recycling program first.
If your recycling program accepts plastic straws, rinse and flatten them before placing them in your recycling bin. This helps prevent them from getting stuck in machinery and contaminating other recyclables.
GetGreenNow tells us more on why plastic straws are so difficult to recycle:
“Plastic straws are made out of type 5 plastic, also known as polypropylene. Although polypropylene can be recycled, most recycling facilities do not accept plastic straws.
Straws are small and flexible, and can fall between the cracks of machinery, or get stuck in machinery. Therefore, they usually do not get recycled (Source). On that note, there are some cities and recyclers that may have the ability to recycle plastic straws.
A simple Google search should help you find out whether you can directly place plastic straws in your recycling bin.”
2. Trash Disposal
If your local recycling program does not accept plastic straws, the next best option is to place them in the trash.
However, it’s important to dispose of them properly by placing them in a tied-off plastic bag. This helps prevent them from ending up in the environment and harming wildlife.
Another way to dispose of plastic straws is to repurpose them. Plastic straws can be used for DIY crafts, such as making jewelry, and can be donated to art projects.
This helps keep them out of the landfill and gives them a second life. Here are some examples of how you can repurpose plastic straws:
- Use them to create a wreath or a bird feeder.
- Cut them into smaller pieces to create a mosaic or a picture frame.
- Use them as stencils to create patterns on fabric or paper.
Earth 911 tells us why reducing and reusing plastic straws is the best way to work towards eliminating them altogether:
“Since you can’t bank on recycling them, your best bet is to reduce straw use entirely. Unless you have sensitive teeth, tell the restaurant to hold the straw when you order drinks, or leave it in the paper wrapping so it can be used by another customer.
For those who have become accustomed to straws, buy a reusable one and bring it with you when you dine. Straws can be reused infinitely, and are manufactured to be dishwasher-safe.”
Upcycling is the process of turning waste materials into new products. There are several ways to upcycle plastic straws, which can help reduce waste and give them a new purpose.
Here are some examples of how you can upcycle plastic straws:
- Use them to create a pen or pencil holder.
- Use them to create a lampshade or a hanging light.
- Use them to create a vase or a plant pot.
Alternatives to Plastic Straws
One of the best ways to dispose of plastic straws is not to use them. There are several alternative options to plastic straws, such as paper, bamboo, or stainless steel straws.
These options are reusable and can be easily washed and reused, which reduces waste and the need for disposal.
Benefits of Proper Disposal of the Plastic Straw
Once upon a time, a small town loved its daily dose of bubble tea. Every afternoon, the townspeople would line up at their favorite bubble tea shop, eagerly waiting to savor the sweet and refreshing drink.
However, as time went by, the town started to notice an increase in plastic waste. The bubble tea shop used plastic straws to serve the drinks, and many of the straws were discarded improperly, littering the streets and harming the environment.
But one day, a group of environmentally conscious citizens came together to find a solution. They realized the key to reducing plastic waste was properly disposing of plastic straws.
So, they started a campaign to educate the community on the benefits of properly disposing of plastic straws. They emphasized the importance of recycling and trash disposal and showed people how to repurpose and upcycle plastic straws.
As a result of their efforts, the town saw a significant reduction in plastic waste. The streets were cleaner, the environment was healthier, and the bubble tea shop even started using alternative options to plastic straws, such as reusable bamboo straws.
The benefits of proper disposal of plastic straws are many. Firstly, it helps prevent plastic pollution, which can harm wildlife and the environment. It also reduces the amount of waste in landfills, which helps conserve natural resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, proper disposal of plastic straws can inspire others to be more environmentally conscious. Seeing that a small town can make a big difference can inspire them to take action in their communities.
Ultimately, the town realized that properly disposing of plastic straws had a powerful environmental impact. They learned that every small action counts when it comes to protecting the planet, and they continued to work towards a cleaner and greener future.
The Bottom Line
There are several ways to dispose of plastic straws properly. Recycling and proper disposal in the trash are the best options, but repurposing and upcycling can also be effective ways to dispose of them.
Additionally, alternative options to plastic straws can help reduce waste and the need for disposal altogether.
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