With claims that at least 4.4 billion straws are being thrown away each year in the UK and over 500 million straws are being used each day in the US, it is undeniable that a more sustainable alternative to plastic straws was absolutely necessary, yet how much better are paper straws than plastic ones?

In August last year, McDonalds admitted that their paper straws are not actually recyclable and therefore the swap to a supposedly better type of straw may actually be having a significantly worse impact on the environment. Yet several months later, these straws are still in use. Despite the environmental impacts of paper straws being potentially more damaging than the effects of plastic straws, there is one property of paper straws which is undeniably better than the plastic alternative. This is regarding the flexibility of paper. I’m sure majority of people can picture the horrifying images of turtles with plastic straws stuck inside them that have been circulating social media over the past year and perhaps it is these images which will bring about a change in societies use of plastic straws. Due to papers flexibility, a paper straw is significantly less likely to have such detrimental effects on marine life, however how much better are they truly?

Although arguably a step in the right direction, I simply do not feel that paper straws are the answer. I am almost certain that most people have at least once gone to their tap to get a glass of water and managed to drink it without the aid of a straw, yet we somehow feel that there is still a need to use straws despite their awful impacts on the environment. What if instead of searching for alternatives, we simply stopped using straws?

Additionally if we simply cannot stop using straws, why not swap to a reusable straw which prevents single use of either paper or plastic straws and is therefore without a doubt better for the environment. Although more costly than a disposable straw initially, reusable straws are also more cost effective over time. Many individuals have already begun to make this swap but I don’t believe the issue will be fully solved until plastic and paper straws alike are no longer an option. If there is an option to use a disposable straw then people will continue to use them. However, if we remove this option it will force the necessary change which needs to take place in which reusable straws take the place of disposable straws and in scenarios where this is not an option, a drink may simply be enjoyed without a straw. Although straws may be a preferred option there is absolutely no need to use them in any situation. Quite simply, I feel that unless a straw is reusable it shouldn’t be used at all.