Be Straw Free Campaign: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: You say 500 million straws are used in the US every day, but I can't picture that--what would 500 million straws look like?
500 million straws could fill over 127 school buses each day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year!
500 million straws per day is an average of 1.6 straws per person (in the US) per day. Based on this national average, each person in the US will use approximately 38,000 or more straws between the ages of 5 and 65. So the sooner we can begin to use fewer straws, the better - it is never too soon (or too late!) to start!
Data notes: The number of disposable straws distributed for use in the US are based on estimates provided by straw manufacturers Milo talked to in researching this project. Some environmental groups we talked to told us they believe this estimate to be low.
Each 40-ft.-long school bus has a cab capacity of about 35'x 6.5'x 7.5', and a disposable straw is, on average, .75 cubic inches, so it would take more than 46,400 40-ft-long school buses to carry the straws we use in the US every year (over 127 school bus loads/day)!
Q: I like using a straw and some people I know need to use one. What options are there besides single-use disposable plastic straws?
There are many options to choose from including reusable stainless steel straws, glass straws, reusable plastic straws, and even bamboo straws. See our links section below for some online retailers of reusable straws.
Q: What about using compostable straws?
Compostable straws are a single-use, disposable product and still less preferable than opting to go strawless or use a reusable straw.
If you need to use compostable straws, they will likely need to be composted in a commercial composting facility--find a facility near you.
Buying compostable straws and then disposing of them in a landfill is not a solution to our unsustainable system of consumption and disposal.
Neither plastic nor paper straws are accepted by most recycling facilities.
Q: I have heard that some compostable straws are not really compostable. Is this true?
Unfortunately, it is true that some products which are sold as "biodegradable," including straws, do not actually compost. Eco-Cycle strongly recommends only choosing compostable products certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. Learn more at www.bpiworld.org.
Q: What about jobs being lost when fewer straws are produced?
Like everyone else, I am also concerned about the economy. I encourage straw manufacturers to switch to or include reusable straws in their production, and to switch away from making single-use disposable products. Companies need to keep up with the times, and the time has come to stop producing so much waste, especially in the form of single-use disposable plastic items.
Q: What about other single-use disposable items like coffee cups and plastic bags?
Eco-Cycle launched the I Choose to Reuse campaign to encourages businesses, individuals, and local governments to support reusables over wasteful disposable items such as single-use shopping bags, bottled water, coffee cups and to-go containers.
The Mulled Mind: reusable stainless steel straws