With places like KFC recently terminating its provision of plastic caps and straws for its drinks, it is no wonder that the appeal of metal straws have been more alluring than ever. A recent The Straits Times news article reported that 1.76 billion plastic are used in Singapore yearly, but fewer than 20 per cent of these are recycled. To combat the impending prevalence of plastic waste, metal straws have been advertised to be a good alternative to the disposable plastic straw, touting on its reusability. However, just like any other product made from natural or anthropogenic resources, metal straws come at an environmental cost. While little research has been done about the positive impacts of making the switch to metal straws, much has been looked into about the environmental repercussions of reusable shopping bags, which is similarly advocated for its ability to be used more than once.
Going eco-friendly is not as simple as it seems. Minimizing the environmental footprint is dependent on an array of things. From how any item is being generated, manufactured and delivered, the overall benefits from using a material over the other seem to be under a never ending list of deliberation and comparison. Regardless, this should not mean that we should still continue our unsustainable ways of using disposable items that pollute the air and threaten wild and marine life. We just have to be mindful about how our habits affect the earth and try our best to make sure that our intentions are in line with the way we consume and use environmentally friendly products.
The damage that comes with plastic or waste results from any other material is largely dependent on us and how we incorporate them into our lives. We can save on purchasing green bags and bring used plastic bags to supermarket the next time we go grocery shopping. We can choose to drink straight from the cup instead of using any type of straw to consume our drinks. There is no one item that is absolutely more sustainable than the other. Most items leave a carbon footprint and hamper our ecosystem in one way or another anyway. Perhaps, it is not the materials we use that make us eco-friendly, but rather, it’s how we use them. It’s our sustainable behavior that counts and not how many environmentally-safe products we own. Now that’s something to think about.