You make a sound sometimes when you are about to take the last sip of your fizz or the lip-smacking smoothie with the beloved straw and it goes without saying, it’s the much-in-demand plastic straw! This strange sound in fact makes you feel satisfied and happy as you talk to your friend/family with a beaming face. Isn’t it great that you have achieved milestones in health by consuming nutritious juices ignoring the fact that these shop-prepared ones are laden with sugar and calories even if we ignore the fact that they are ripped off the fiber content that helps you feel full? The question of a fruit juice’s authentic nutrients remains unanswered but we are not focusing on it right now but on the viability of the straw which is mostly made from plastic-a material that’s been questioned for its destructive effect on the environment.
Men and women look forward to celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries and other special days. So, governments may have tried enforcing the same concept to cherish other important aspects in life as well by proposing certain days to commemorate nature, exercise and body parts in the form of World Environmental Day, International Day of Yoga, World Health Day and so on. But this year’s World Environment Day (June 5th) remains a black day in our lives as we were updated with the photo of a black-necked stork with its beak stuck in a plastic ring. This is more than what our minds can take, especially on a rare bird species that might face extinction pretty soon at the rate we are treating Mother Earth! Our lakes, ponds and seas are filled with aplenty plastic straws (that we use to drink our juices) that affect poor marine creatures. Let’s not forget the poor turtle from 2015 which was relieved from a cruel plastic straw struck in its nostrils only after several challenging minutes and some blood loss. We don’t think twice before using these straws and the animals/birds too don’t think twice before trying to eat it as they assume it to be some kind of food that floats on the water.
When each of us have our very own healthy, unharmful and 24*7 available straw-our mouth what’s the need for these plastic straws that pollute the Earth and harm creatures! Though a late realization, many countries have raised a ban against using all forms of plastic including plastic straws but we are far from reaching our goals! Though we have not yet found an equal alternative to plastic that can fulfill plastic’s versatility here are some good alternatives to plastic straws:
Metal Straws: Straws made of stainless steel and aluminum are becoming famous as they don’t dissolve in liquid (like paper straws) but are durable, can be transported and above all, reused by cleaning them with ultrathin brushes. On the downside, some people complain of a metallic taste.
Paper Straws: Paper was the first one to be used to make straws and remain in market until today with the only downside being that they wilt or dissolve quickly when the straw is immersed inside the drink for a longer period. Then I guess you would be drinking your straw along with the juice! The tragedy is that, though this was the first kind of straw to enter the market we haven’t yet found a solution to address the problems of dissolving.
Bamboo Straws: Maybe it’s not only Pandas that love bamboo but mankind too has started developing a soft corner towards this material that’s degradable and aesthetic! While they are reusable, cleaning is quite difficult and the straw might even retain the flavor of the drink when you reuse it!
Glass: Whoa! Drinking from glass straws sound amazing despite their lack of portability and durability. These straws can be reused and add glamor to the drink as they come in different colors too.
Silicon Straws: Maybe these are the best alternatives until now. They are neither too strong nor too weak but just right! Available in different colors and sizes they are environmental-friendly and safe to use too!
Humans have been using some or the other form of straw (also in the form of drinking tubes) since thousands of years and the royals too have preferred that their drinks be served using some cylindrical tube or straw (https://time.com/5336242/plastic-straws-history/). Maybe we might be lucky enough to discover the perfect alternative to plastic straws in the coming years. Now that we have started discussions on the harmful effects of plastic and have also taken some measures to ban them, we do need more efforts from everyone to make it a public reality.
What’s the Best Straw? https://www.popsci.com/whats-best-straw/
Want to Ditch Plastic Straws? Consider These: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2019/07/rethinking-plastic-straws-consider-these-options/#close
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.