Paper or Plastic? Answering an Age-Old Question

As a business owner who cares about the environment, you know that it’s important to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible. That being said, it can be hard to know exactly how to do this. When we think about paper vs. plastic straws, it can be confusing to know which way to turn. Paper comes from trees, meaning it destroys a renewable resource. Plastic takes an incredibly long time to decompose, which also hurts the Earth. Let’s explore why biologists agree that paper is the better choice.

Decomposition Rates

A single plastic straw can take up to 200 years to decompose. Considering that 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States alone, an incredible amount of plastic straws are making their way into the landfills and oceans of the U.S. While recycling the straws might seem like a simple solution, there are two issues. Plastic straws very rarely make their way into recycling bins even though many businesses make an effort to encourage their customers to keep straws out of the trash cans. Secondly, the recycling process for plastic straws releases dangerous toxins into the air, somewhat negating the positive environmental effect of recycling the straws.

Paper straws, by comparison, only take 45-90 days to decompose. They’re able to hold up while being used, but they quickly begin the decomposition process after they’re discarded. Paper straws have already begun to break down by the time they reach landfills. In the unlikely event that a paper straw makes it to the ocean, it’s extremely unlikely to cause any harm to marine life.

Environmental Effects of Plastic Straws

When plastic straws enter our oceans, marine animals can suffer horribly. Many of us have seen the horrific video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw embedded in its nasal cavity. Many deceased ocean animals have been found to have plastic straws stuck in their stomachs. When animals attempt to eat plastic straws, they can become stuck in their throats, eventually suffocating them. Since plastic straws take such a long time to decompose, they can cause health problems or even death for many animals over hundreds of years.

While it’s true that paper straws come from trees, many companies are taking the initiative to replace what they take from the Earth. At FarFromBoring, we make a point to plant at least one tree (often more) for every case of straws we sell.

PLA Straws: Not the Answer

Some companies are promoting the use of PLA straws, which are made of a plant-based material and appear similar to plastic straws. While this may sound good in theory, PLA straws must be sent to specific landfills and undergo a complicated process in order to decompose properly. Most landfills do not have this capability. When PLA straws are not disposed of properly, they harm the environment in the same ways as regular plastic straws. PLA straws look almost exactly similar to regular plastic straws, so customers who are using them often do not even know that the business they’re patronizing is attempting to make a sustainable choice. Without the knowledge of what to do with the PLA straws, people simply toss them in the trash and they are taken to a landfill just like any other straw.

Make the Switch

You’ve done your research and the answer is clear: It’s time to make the switch to paper straws. At FarFromBoring, we offer quick shipping and have a wide range of paper straws to fit the needs of your business. We’re looking forward to helping you and your customers reduce your carbon footprint and help make a positive effect on the Earth for years to come.