OOPS! Michigan’s Paper Straws May Be Worse For Earth Than Plastic
This is news that really won't disappoint anyone other than those who enjoy sipping beverages from cardboard but, it turns out those paper straws that were supposed to be better for the environment are actually worse than the original plastic. According to Newsweek, there was an estimated 500 million plastic straws being used every single day in the U.S. alone.
In an attempt to cut plastic waste, many states have banned or are moving towards a ban, including Michigan. Michigan House Bill 6505, introduced by State Representative Tom Cochran in 2018, would fine restaurant owners caught handing out plastic straws.
The argument is this new policy will protect our picturesque Mitten State landscapes, so many restaurants switched to paper straws. This could have been a regretful move and not just because they look like Pixie Stix.
A new study, published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, has found cardboard sippers come with their own set of un-eco-friendly traits. Speaking with Newsweek, an environmental scientist, Thimo Groffen, shared the group's findings:
Straws made from plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo, are often advertised as being more sustainable and eco-friendly than those made from plastic, however, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that's not necessarily true.
Are Paper Straws Any Less Dangerous For Michigan Than Plastic?
The group studied 39 different brands of straw made from varying materials, and 90% of the paper straws contained PFAs, vs. 75% plastic, and 40% for glass. This doesn't mean that any of these straws are going to immediately poison you, but if these chemicals build up in the human body or are soaked into the ground in a landfill, they can do damage to significant damage to both.
So, what does this mean for you? For now, more research is needed, but Thimo did admit that the move to paper straws isn't necessarily paying off for the environment:
The presence of PFAS in paper and bamboo straws shows they are not necessarily biodegradable
Fingers crossed that somewhere there is a scientist buried deep in a secret bunker coming up with the perfect straw. Hopefully, we won't have to drink from a paper one that looks like a pencil you bought from the vending machine in elementary school. In the meantime can we please get our plastic straws back? The paper ones make Coke (and everything) taste like you're drinking it through a refrigerator box fort.