OkStraw Paper Straws and the Threat from Microplastics

OkStraw’s Warning on Plastic Waste

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we ask ourselves: “is plastic is really everywhere?”. Plastic is on the ground, in waterways, in our planet’s oceans, and almost every object we use has some level of plastic in it. Is this really true, however? Has plastic become so pervasive that it has literally entered every space of our planet? With the results of US Geological Survey researcher Gregory Wetherbee’s recent discovery, the answer is clearly becoming “yes”.

Wetherbee was analyzing collected samples of freshly fallen rainwater gathered high up on the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and discovered microplastic fibers in the samples. We at OkStraw Paper Straws are alarmed to hear the extent to which plastic is contaminating our planet. When was the last time you’ve heard someone talk about biodegradable paper straws washing up ashore? Probably not as recently as you’ve heard about plastic straws, and those are only visible pieces of plastic.

Microplastics in Places You Never Expected

Wetherbee’s discovery appalls us at OkStraw, but it’s not the first time microplastics turned up in remote locations. Scientists found microplastics in the Pyrnees Mountains, in British rivers, and American groundwater. If the microplastics in snow and rainfall wasn’t shocking enough, then their sheer concentration will. 

Scientists working in the Arctic Circle estimated that for every liter of melted snow they collected, there were 10,000 pieces of microplastic. How many of these 10,000 pieces of microplastic came from a plastic straw that someone used instead of eco-friendly paper straws? Likely more than we could ever imagine. 

Microplastics are the result of our failure to recycle plastic waste

Consequences of Plastic Waste

Stories like this remind us why switching from plastics to biodegradable paper is so important. Microplastics in these far flung areas are the result of our failure to recycle plastic waste. Unrecycled plastic eventually breaks down into tiny, imperceptible fragments, or microplastics. Winds and water currents then carry these microplastics to places we didn’t expect.

These microparticles in the water, on land and in the air could come from anything. They could be particles emitted from factories, plastic straws that broke apart, or even synthetic fibers shedding from our clothes. On the other hand, items like paper straws, paper bags and natural fibers harmlessly disintegrate.

If our planet falls to plastic waste, then we are going down with it

OkStraw Paper Straws for our Health and the Planet’s

What do microplastics in the air mean for humans? They mean that not only are we eating and drinking microplastics, we are also inhaling them. Microplastics are also known to attach themselves to toxic metals, including mercury. Microplastics can bind to bacteria, and can make us sick if we inhale them. Unlike the fossil fuel in plastic straws, the wood from paper straws is part of our natural environment, and once it breaks down, it naturally recycles. 

With microplastics in our air, food, and drinking water, when can we finally say “enough”? Now’s the time wake up, and realize that if our planet falls to plastic waste, then we are going down with it. At OkStraw, we fight microplastics by offering a sustainable alternative with our paper straws. We can assure you that you won’t find an OkStraw paper straw in the Arctic, unless it’s in a drink.

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