As a dad who’s trying to make eco-conscious decisions for my family, I’ve got something about the downside of paper straws you’ll want to hear about. If you’ve traded in your plastic straws for paper ones, thinking you’re doing the planet (and your kids) a favor, well, sit tight. A recent study just tossed a wrench in the gears.
So, What’s the Deal With These Straws?
Thimo Groffen, a scientist at the University of Antwerp, and his team did a deep dive into the composition of straws made from different materials. We’re talking paper, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, and yes, plastic. Their mission? To check for PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” Turns out, a whooping 69% of all the straws had these nasties in them. And here’s the kicker: 90% of the paper straws tested had them. Yikes!
The Nitty-Gritty on PFAS
If you’re scratching your head wondering what PFAS is, let me break it down for you. These are chemicals that have been used in stuff like nonstick pans, outdoor clothing, and all sorts of everyday items since the 1940s. Why? Because they’re super resistant to water, heat, and stains. The issue? They’re called “forever chemicals” for a reason. These bad boys can stick around in the environment—and our bodies—for ages.
Why Should We Be Worried?
You’re probably thinking, “If they’re in everyday items, how bad can they be?” Well, even if we’re talking small amounts, these chemicals can build up in our systems over time. The long-term health effects? Not something I want to mess around with, especially when it comes to my kids. We’re talking potential thyroid issues, higher cholesterol levels, and even some types of cancer.
Are Plant-Based Straws Any Better?
With all the bans on single-use plastics, paper and bamboo straws have been stepping into the limelight. I get it; they’re supposed to be biodegradable and better for Mother Earth. But, hold your horses! The same study found that 80% of bamboo straws had PFAS too. So, if you thought you were making a cleaner choice with bamboo, think again.
What Can We Actually Do?
Alright, it’s not all doom and gloom. The study did give us some good news. Stainless steel straws had zero traces of PFAS. Glass straws aren’t too shabby either, but you might want to check brands to make sure they’re clean. Silicone straws could also be a good bet. And hey, let’s not forget the most eco-friendly option: going strawless! A small change, but every bit counts, right?
Being a parent in today’s world means navigating a maze of product choices, all while trying to do what’s best for our families and the planet. This study is a timely reminder that “eco-friendly” labels aren’t a free pass. We’ve got to stay on our toes and really look into the products we bring into our homes.
So here’s to making smarter choices, whether it’s stainless steel straws for those Saturday morning smoothies or simply saying “no straw, please” when we’re out and about, despite the Downside of paper straws that they can actually be worse for the environment than plastic straws. The path to a truly sustainable and healthy future may have its twists and turns, but hey, isn’t that what makes the journey interesting?
Catch you later, and keep striving for that greener, cleaner life we all want for our families!
- Boisacq, Pauline, et al. “Assessment of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Commercially Available Drinking Straws Using Targeted and Suspect Screening Approaches.” Food Additives & Contaminants, 2023, pp. 1–12, doi:10.1080/19440049.2023.2240908.
- “Research on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/chemical-research/research-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas. Accessed 27 Aug. 2023.
- “Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls – Agency for Toxic Substances.” U.S. Deptarment for Health and Human Services, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp200-p.pdf.