What to do with Plastic Straws

Plastic Straws Karen Schulz

I like to use straws when I drink liquids, but I haven’t always been this way. I started using straws when I had orthodontics (braces put on my teeth). I was an adult at the time, in my 30’s, and I enjoyed my Diet Dr. Pepper.  One of my orthodontist’s rules was “NO Sodas.”  When I asked him why, he said that soda weakens the bond of the braces on teeth.  So I asked him if using a straw, which would allow the soda to hit the back of my throat without touching my braces, would be okay. (Typing this now, that sounds rather desperate, doesn’t it?)  He said although he wouldn’t necessarily advise it, I “might be able to get away with it.”  Thus my journey into the world of plastic straws began.

Using straws became a habit, one that continued even when my braces were removed. I was happy drinking from a straw, and honestly didn’t give it a second thought until, like the rest of the world, I saw the video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle’s nostril. It was heartbreaking.

According to NationalGeographic.com; “Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year, and straws comprise just 0.025% of that.”

But still.

If we can stop ocean pollution by 0.025% just by not using plastic straws, why not?

Many restaurants in our area have gone to either metal or paper straws, and many cities are actually banning the use of plastic straws. That’s good.

I have purchased metal straws and use those now.

But what should we do with the plastic straws we already have? I have a box of straws that I don’t know what to do with. A BIG box of straws. Enough straws to last me a little over 8 years (yes YEARS) if I used one straw per day. So what do I do with them? I thought maybe I could just melt them into one big plastic blob, but apparently, that isn’t good for the environment. I looked on Pinterest and saw a few ideas, but I really don’t want a plastic straw lampshade.

I Googled: “What to do with plastic straws” and the best suggestion I saw was to just bury them in your yard. That way they won’t go into the landfill or the ocean or pollute the air. One poster in the thread said they had been digging in the garden at their new house and actually found a mattress and washing machine buried in their yard! It made the idea of burying a box of straws seem like a rather tame idea.

I’m not quite ready to do that yet. I thought I’d pose the question to you all. If you have abandoned the use of plastic straws but have some to get rid of, what are you doing? I’m totally open to suggestions!

Plastic Straws Karen Schulz

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Comments (10)

  1. Janet

    Donate them to an elementary school teacher for a school project…you could even get some ideas and how to’s to make it easier on the teacher. I think right off hand of a frame or vase? Just a thought…

    March 8, 2019 at 9:53 am
    • Karen

      This is a GREAT idea, Janet! Thanks for your input!

      March 8, 2019 at 5:40 pm
  2. Jane Maurice

    Well, to truly help the environment, why not find solutions to all the trash ending up in oceans and not in landfills or recycle centers. With everything in our world pushing about getting on board with latest technology updates, like new phones etc., what’s up with our recycling efforts still falling so short in helping and healing the world. Economics drives the bus, not what’s scientifically doable. I use straws to keep my lips dry and the ice from tumbling out all over me! But I don’t bother asking any more and just quietly “suffer”. Let’s quit chipping away at .025%,, and dive deeper into the bigger picture, keep all this litter out of the oceans and off the land. Task everyone, especially the scientists and engineers, to offer ways to make big changes. As my hubby had always said…LosAngeles, where the sewer meets the sea.
    As far as removing your box of strawsis there s way to shred them I wonder? I have some to get rid of too. Looking forward to ideas.

    March 8, 2019 at 3:25 pm
    • Karen

      Well, of course, you’re right, Jane. But if we all do a small part, it has to help a tiny bit, right? There is some great feedback here and on my Facebook page! Some really good ideas! I hope you find them inspiring.

      March 8, 2019 at 5:41 pm
  3. Traci

    I was going to suggest donating them to an elementary school, too…but there are so many other venues open for *free* craft supplies. Think Scouts, camps, and so many others who would love to receive the bounty. As to burying them in your yard…what is the difference between burying them in your yard and burying them in the landfill? Just asking….

    March 9, 2019 at 8:19 am
  4. Jennifer

    Anything like shredding or melting them, then throwing them away, will still leave the problem of plastic ending up in the ocean. Plastic eventually breaks down in smaller pieces. While that would probably be safer than an entire straw, animals will still end up eating plastic. We live in a rural area and we burn most of our trash, what we can’t recycle. We try to use less plastic because burned plastic is no bueno. But trash pick up is really expensive in our area. I know it’s not an option for everyone. But where we live, it’s the norm. And we have found a big pile of trash on our property, several old washing machines, couch, jars, cans, bottles…..it used to be pretty common to leave a pile of trash like that when somebody left a house and moved on. It’s terrible, but true. We had the appliances scrapped and saved some of the rusty junk. We have a couple of old wringer washing machines in the yard as planters, an old bicycle covered in vines, a bed spring I want to use as a light fixture. I try not to buy a bunch of new stuff. I shop at Goodwill, thrift stores, and yard sales before buying new. And use reusable bags when I remember. And pick up trash when we find it. I don’t know what happens to some humans that they think it’s acceptable to leave their trash for someone else to worry about. But we do what we can and teach our children to be good stewards. “We don’t inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children.” (Native American proverb)

    March 19, 2019 at 4:51 pm
    • Karen

      Thanks for your feedback, Jennifer. When I was doing research on this, I read quite a few articles with stories like yours… finding things buried in their yard. That must have been quite a surprise!

      March 20, 2019 at 5:14 am
  5. Nadia

    I’m also trying to find a solution for all my plastic straws, sorry I don’t have any ideas but if you come up with any please let me know

    September 3, 2019 at 8:56 am
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