The Last (Plastic) Straw
If you’re on social media these days, chances are you've seen someone calling out how bad plastic straws are for the environment.
And with good f-ing reason! Plastic straws fall into a category of plastic items called 'single use' (for obvious reasons, although kudos to you if you wash and reuse your straws!).
This means that they are bad pollutants and very toxic to the environment. Anything that's made of plastic and only used for 20 minutes before being tossed is super wasteful.
But how do straws measure up with toothbrushes? Let's compare…
This article from phys.org claims:
Straws make up about 4 percent of the plastic trash by piece, but far less by weight. Straws on average weigh so little—about one sixty-seventh of an ounce or .42 grams—that all those billions of straws add up to only about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9 million tons of plastic waste that yearly hits the waters.
Each year more than 35 million tons (31.9 million metric tons) of plastic pollution are produced around Earth and about a quarter of that ends up around the water.
So while that is a lot of straws, the article rightly points out that straws are actually not as bad as people many think.
Every year, billions of toothbrushes are disposed of, many of which end up in landfill and oceans.
To compare with plastic straws, the average weight of a plastic drugstore toothbrush is ~17 grams, or more than 50 times as heavy as a plastic straw.
So while we can’t compare exact data, we do know that if people dispose of their toothbrush as often as their Dentist recommends (every 3 months), then they probably use their toothbrush 180 times (90 days X 2 times per day = 180).
So each year, the average person throws away 4 toothbrushes (1 every 3 months) which weighs around 100 grams. This is equal to the weight of 238 straws. Does anyone use a straw 2 out of every 3 days of the year? I doubt it.
Plastic toothbrushes almost definitely add more plastic waste to the environment. But here's the rub: both are wasteful, stupidly designed products that can be improved on.
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