THE FINAL STRAW
This week, the challenge is about axing two pointless little things from our lives that do way more harm than good.
1. Disposable drinking straws
2. Chewing gum
The problem with both of these little items is that they contain plastic. Everyone is probably aware by this point that single-use plastic is a giant problem for our environment. This issue is far too large to tackle in just one challenge, so we're going to break it down over several. This week's challenge, eliminating gum and straws, will be the first of many plastic challenges.
Your parents may have told you that chewing gum is a dirty habit. Turns out they were right - as they are about most things, annoyingly. Inside gum, you'll find:
Vinyl acetate - causes tumors
Butylated hydroxyanisol - probable carcinogen
Aspartame - linked to leukaemia
And lots of other fun stuff! It's not exactly health food.
And then there's the environmental impact of gum. Here are a few things to consider when buying gum:
- It comes wrapped in plastic that'll take, on average, 450 years to decompose.
- The gum itself is the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts.
- 92% of Britain's urban paving stones have gum stuck to them.
- The chemicals used to clean it off the streets are toxic.
I could go on, but you get it. Gum's not good.
Righty-o, moving swiftly along to disposable drinking straws. I couldn't think of a single reason why they could be bad for your health but luckily I've got this great little site called Google and here's what came up there:
1. They worsen your mouth wrinkles.
2. They give you gas.
3. They DON'T protect your teeth.
SO WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
However, what's far, far worse about straws is their environmental impact. In the US alone, 500 million straws are used each day. Straws can't be recycled so these are headed straight to landfill. Even worse, loads of them make their way to the ocean where they join the tons of plastic waste harming marine life. This video of a straw being removed from a seat turtle's nostril drives the point home pretty horrifically.
The gum problem is an easy one to address... just stop buying it. The end. If you're currently trying to quit smoking by chewing nicotine gum, I highly suggest reading this article and looking at some of the other solutions they suggest.
As for straws, the first step is not buying them yourself. Second is requesting that the wait staff do not give you straws when you are out. However, I get it if you prefer your frosty drink through a straw, especially if you live in the USA. If you don't use a straw there, you'll end up with a face full of ice if you try to take a sip from your glass.
Enter... reusable drinking straws!
As with everything these days, you have options. I'd recommend any of the following*.
If you are buying straws for your kids to use, I would go for reusable silicone ones or paper straws. Neither are as good for the environment as the three above, but neither is as likely to cause a horrific cleft injury, as my doctor friend pointed out. (Thanks Nancy!)
*Disclosure policy on my product recommendations here if you like fine print.
Hopefully, these two small tweaks to your habits will be really easy to make. And, yes, you might feel like a bit of a prat carrying around your own straw but suck it up (ha) so the oceans don't have to. It's also an easy way to start a conversation about why straws suck (I'm sorry, I can't help it.) If you want to go the whole hog, talk or write to your favourite restaurants/bars about not serving straws with their drinks unless specifically requested.
Remember, the idea is not to drop any of the challenges, but to keep going with them at a level that you are comfortable with. Read more about how that works here.
For last week's challenge, All The Colours, even if colouring books aren't for you, look at other ways you can help your wandering brain stay in the moment. For the first challenge, Eat Less Face, keep trying new meat-free recipes and upping your veg intake.
Our individual efforts won't have much of an impact if there are only a few of us making these changes. The more people we can get involved, the bigger a difference we can make. So - tell a friend or use the buttons below to share this page on Facebook or Pinterest. We'll be getting on Twitter soon!
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