In the last few years, everyone has been concerned about plastic pollution and its effect on humans, animals, and the world. Plastic has become a big part of our lives and unfortunately, has been devastating to the environment.
With the awareness of plastic pollution rising, people tried to find alternative solutions, one of which has become paper products. The most known and talked about product is paper straws; however, there are also paper plates, cutlery, and many other items that were once made mainly out of plastic.
With that being said: is the change to paper products actually helping the environment or is it another concern that we need to be aware of?
Paper comes from trees and trees are a crucial part of the environment. Deforestation is a major concern when it comes to climate change. Looking at ‘One Tree Plant Organisation’, we know that 46% of the world’s forests have already been destroyed. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon in their trunks and roots.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, one large tree can provide oxygen for up to 4 people daily. In addition, tropical forest destruction accounts for roughly 20% of current greenhouse gasses and is believed to be responsible for nearly 10% of global warming pollution.
While the paper straw industry is growing rapidly due to consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and government efforts to combat climate change, it’s difficult to quantify the number of trees explicitly harvested for paper straws or how many straws can be produced from a single tree.
However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, we do know that 80,000 to 160,000 trees are harvested globally every day for paper, and logging is a dangerous and environmentally harmful process. To put this number into perspective, every 1.2 seconds man destroys an area of the forest the size of a football field.
Furthermore, processing trees into pulp and paper requires significant amounts of energy, with paper straws requiring three times more energy to create than plastic straws, according to Strawlific.com.
This energy consumption leads to significant carbon emissions, which must also be factored in when considering the environmental cost of paper straws.
Ultimately, the minimal reduction in maritime pollution achieved by switching from plastic to paper straws does not justify the significant energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with paper straw production.
With all of that being said, neither plastic nor paper straws are good for the environment. Those materials cause negative effects in their own way. More research needs to be done for us to find the right material that would be able to be changed into items we need and will not cause damage to the environment.
Some companies, like The Happy Turtle Straw, do not use plastic or paper because of their effects on the world.
The Happy Turtle Straw uses rice and cassava to create our products. Our product is vegan, gluten-free, edible, and 100% biodegradable.
The goal of the company is to give people what they want and need and at the same time protect the environment in multiple ways. We cause no deforestation, which as it is stated above, is extremely harmful to humans and animals and the production of our straws has way less carbon emission than the production of plastic or paper straws.