Are Paper Straws As Harmful As Plastic Ones?

Are Paper Straws As Harmful As Plastic Ones?
Are Paper Straws As Harmful As Plastic Ones?

Wherever we go, now plastic straws are seen no more. They are now replaced with a much more biodegradable material, which is a paper straw. However, are these straws eco-friendly?

There is a change in how people are now ditching the plastic and replacing it with everything biodegradable, the most common of all was replacing plastic with paper straws. When we started to think that we have eliminated the harmful plastic from our lives, little did we know that paper straws are not that effective for the health and the environment? There has been a constant debate on how plastic is in use for several goods like carrying bags, food packaging, lollypop sticks, etc. 

Where did paper straws originate? 

Marvin Chester of America created the paper straw in the year 1888. Paper straws became extremely popular at the beginning, but after knowing its threat, people stopped using it and replaced it with plastic straw instead. Why then the return to paper straws? Many countries, including India, have once again started moving away from plastic to paper straws. Paper straw is considered eco-friendly as items made of paper can be decomposed between 3 to 6 weeks. However, natural materials like paper, hay or even hollow plant stem emanate an unpleasant odour in the drink, making it a less-favoured choice among people. 

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Are paper straws harmful to the body?

Paper straws are said to be a safer version for health but are extremely heavy on the pocket. Paper is made of wood, which is bleached and coloured in varied colours and patterns for attractive-looking straws. This directly indicates that while we are sipping juices and colas from the paper straws, we are also taking in a lot of chemicals, and even eating paper bits unknowingly as they become soggy in a few minutes. The paper used in straws is chemically-treated with cellulose. Again unknowingly, the tiny pieces of paper can get into the system. This can be avoided if the straws are waxed, which still makes it harmful for the human body. 

As per several expert reports, there is no specific harm in using glue and wax straws as they have been FDA-approved. However, the usage of ingredients should be under a particular limit.

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What is the solution? 

Even though we are aware that paper straws can be harmful, but they are any day better than plastic ones. It is also okay to resort to natural straws made of hay, bamboo or even good-quality glass tubes in a longer run. 

Following are some eco-friendly alternatives to both the straws:

  • Stainless steel straws: These straws can remain forever just like any other metal cutlery at home. They are durable, easy to clean and have a long shelf life.
  • Bamboo straws: Great for tiki drinks, bamboo straws can give a great touch to your drink's presentation. Also, they can be preserved for a few weeks. 
  • Glass straws: They are reusable, durable and incredibly stylish. They can make for a vast collection in your bar set.

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Written by: Vani Malik

Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Jul 23, 2019

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