Plastic Straw Ban: How Drinking out of Plastic Straws Is Bad for Your Health (And the Environment)

Plastic straws have received a lot of heat for the devastating impact they have on the world’s oceans. However, marine life isn’t the only reason plastic straws should be under fire. In addition to pollution, drinking out of plastic — specifically straws — can be bad for human health, too.

Curious to know more? We uncover the dangers of plastic straws, plus why companies such as Starbucks are banning plastic straws, ahead.

Green kale smoothie

Some companies are replacing plastic straws with biodegradable paper straws. | iStock.com/jenifoto

Plastic straw ban

Believe it or not, plastic straws were once a must-have at restaurants, fast food joints, and coffee houses like Starbucks. But, with the dangers of plastic straws brought to light, environmentalists and eco-friendly consumers have demanded a plastic straw ban. The ban mostly considers the impact plastic straws have on our environment — specifically our oceans, where the devastation is at an all-time high. However, plastic straws pose health concerns to those drinking from them, too.

Due to size and weight, many plastic straws can’t be recycled. Instead, they fall through the recycling sorter and end up back in the trash. From there, the straws make their way onto trash transportation trucks and boats — but, for the same reasons plastic straws can’t be recycled, many of them will never see a landfill. Because they’re so lightweight, many end up blowing off the vehicles and into the ocean. Those in trucks often make their way to a gutter which ultimately leads to the ocean.

Albeit small and lightweight, plastic straws are among the most harmful items in the ocean’s plastic collection, which amounts to about eight million metric tons each year. According to A Strawless Ocean, marine life has a 50% mortality rate after ingesting plastic — which is why there’s a massive push for a ban on plastic straws.

Starbucks Cherry Blossom Frappuccino

Marine life isn’t the only thing impacted by plastic straws. | Starbucks

Dangers of plastic straws

Marine life isn’t the only ones exposed to the dangers of plastic straws — us humans are, too. Discover why drinking out of plastic straws is bad for our health, below.

Cavities

Ever wonder if drinking from a straw bad for your teeth? In short, yes. Because many ingest sugary and acidic beverages via straw, sipping can lead to cavities. In a way, straws help create a streamline between sugary beverages and teeth. Over time, this might start to erode the enamel and, ultimately, cause tooth decay.

Chemicals

If you’re worried about chemicals, you might want to initiate your own plastic straw ban. Most plastic straws are made using polypropylene — a type of plastic derived from petroleum — which can make its way into your beverage. Despite the FDA’s approval, polypropylene is believed to impact estrogen levels, which could be worsened in acidic drinks, UV light, and heat. In other words: The next time you order a drink by the pool, hold the straw.

Gas

Worried about how drinking out of straws impacts your digestive system? You have every right to. Because drinking through a straw causes air bubbles in the digestive tract, you might experience bloating or gas. And, to make matters worse: Carbonated beverages can also have an impact on the digestive system.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!