A rallying cry I once thought made sense.
Until I did a lot more research – asked more questions and crossed paths wtith Chris DeArmitt – PhD, FRSC, FIMMM
And I reviewed his book: The Plastic Paradox.
And lo and behold the latest news story is that paper straws are actually more toxic than plastic straws!
Before we keep banning things, we need a lot more curiosity – more research- and start asking why these things are happening.
According to NBC News “Scientists in Belgium recently tested dozens of straws from supermarkets, retail stores and fast-food restaurants in the country, and found that the majority contained PFAS — a family of synthetic chemicals used in the manufacture of consumer products because they can resist stains, grease and water.”
Here is one article : Warning: Paper Drinking Straws May Be Harmful to Health and Worse for the Environment Than Plastic Versions
After reading up on this issue, there is back-and-forth about degrees of toxicity – but there’s more!
DeArmitt says, according to scientific studies, plastics are usually the greenest option.
“They are better for the environment than metal, glass, cotton and usually paper, so replacing plastic harms the environment. Plus, getting rid of plastics would be terrible – no internet, no cell phones, no computers, no medical devices, no electricity to our homes, and so on.” writes DeArmitt.
“Most of what we believe about plastics and the environment comes from internet gossip, which is notoriously unreliable. Do you care enough about the environment to look at the peer-reviewed science instead?. The headlines and articles we read are not supported by science and evidence. “
Here are some Q and A highlights with Chris:
Q. Do plastics take 1000 years to degrade?
A. No. Plastics degrade just like all carbon-based materials like wood and leaves. Experiments prove that a plastic bag disintegrates in less than one year outdoors.
Q. Should we ban plastic bags?
A. No. Plastic bags are the greenest alternative (Check link in his book). Changing to paper bags means cutting down millions more trees per year, more carbon dioxide released & generating up to 10x more waste. A lifecycle analysis professional examined all 24 studies on bags and concluded:
“From all 24 reports and reviews assessed, the actual LCA analyses on grocery bags overwhelmingly point to plastic as the material with least environmental impact, both at single use level and multi-purpose.”
A. Does the USA consume 500 million straws per day?
A. No. That number was made up by a 9 year old schoolboy named Milo Cress. The press repeated it without thinking to check it first.
We definitely need more #CuriousMinds
We can also look at how as people we waste too much, we litter too much – and reconsider bans and instead ask if that’s the solution or do we need to get a lot more innovative and creative with solutions?