The final straw

by Kevin Lederer, Staff Writer

New Jersey is one of the most populated states pushing to ban the use of everyday plastics in 2019. Glen Rock has recently found itself on the frontline of towns in New Jersey trying to ban unnecessary plastics. After following other towns that banned plastic bags, this movement has continued in Glen Rock. 

Some people don’t know why straws have become such a big problem. One of their issues is their small size. They are often inconspicuous, so people often forget they are plastic and do not recycle them.

Straws that do get recycled often don’t make it through the mechanical recycling sorter because they’re small and lightweight. Consequently, they contaminate recycling loads or ultimately get disposed of as garbage.

This is why Glen Rock students, under the name of the Green Team Interns, took initiative to get multiple stores in town to commit to purchasing paper straws instead of plastic ones. Some of these stores include the Stone and Rail, the Glen Rock Inn, Marc’s Cheesecake, the Glen Rock Athletic Club, and Jalapeños.

Photo Credit: Jason Toncic
A poster outside Glen Rock’s Starbucks. The sign informs on the harm signs cause.

The benefits of choosing paper straws over plastic straws are because they are biodegradable, meaning they’re safer for wildlife than plastic straws. Paper straws are cheaper to make and food safe, FSC certified and FDA approved.

The movement began on Oct. 27, 2018, after the Green Team Interns encouraged the people of Glen Rock to decline their use of plastic straws, bags, bottles, and styrofoam.

In addition to local residents and small businesses playing their part, bigger corporations are also making attempts to reduce the eight million tons of plastic that flow into the ocean every year. This includes Starbucks, which has a location in Glen Rock. Starbucks is one of the first globally recognized brands to announce it will be moving away from plastic straws by 2020. In addition to switching to compostable straws, they will be releasing a new strawless lid design for regular cold-drink cups. Starbucks announced that it started doing this in South Korea last July according to Business Insider.

It is estimated that the average person uses 1.6 straws per day. That means that if 25,000 people stop using straws, we would eliminate 14,600,000 straws a year, preventing them from entering oceans and harming wildlife every year.

Most straws, recycled or not, are likely to end up in our oceans, and a high number of straws are being used every day, individuals cutting back on their personal use of straws can make a difference.

Freshman Sean Ross said, “I’m glad to live in Glen Rock because I think that the more we do now about pollution will help leave a better world for our future generations.” He also expressed his ideas of how small steps like reducing the use of straws are the key to preventing world-wide pollution.