This article is part of our “Youth Head Delegate Blog Series” — written by our YHDs!
By Brian Yang
Although many fast-food chains and restaurants have already begun using disposable wooden cutlery and paper straws, many continue to use plastics. It is widely known that plastic utensils are much cheaper than any other alternative, however, the impact on our environment it has is detrimental.
There are many incredibly harmful impacts on our environment through both the production and the disposal of plastics. During the process of producing plastics in factories, a significant amount of energy and carbon is released into our atmosphere. As an increasing number of factories worldwide release greenhouse gases, this can cause catastrophic changes to our climate, which lead to increased heat, droughts and wildfires. The disposal of plastics creates yet another alarming impact. Many dispose of their single-use plastics in the garbage, however, in many cases they still end up on the ground, forests, beaches and waterways. The harmful choice to litter can lead to two main impacts – the endangerment of wildlife and the contamination of water.
First, single-use plastics have high chances of being disposed of incorrectly through the ground, forests, beaches and waterways. Whether through road trips, camp trips or a simple day out at the beach, these seemingly minor actions of leaving a plastic lid on the ground can result in animals such as birds in the city, bears in the forests, and turtles by the beach to unknowingly consume this indigestible and harmful material. The effect of these plastics on these animals include adverse digestional effects due to the chemicals in plastic, ingestion that reduces the volume in the stomach, and finally, the chance of animals getting tangled up in plastic.
Secondly, with plastics roaming in waterways, they can release harmful chemicals that are poisonous to any organism that utilizes the water. This includes a toxic effect on wildlife that rely on the source of water, a potentially harmful effect on humans that rely on this waterway at home with their sinks, or water used in industrial spaces such as pools and waterparks.
Now with the use of wooden cutlery and paper straws, there come many benefits. Wood is completely compostable, and because many companies that produce wooden utensils do not use chemicals in their production, it is also completely safe to use. Some advantages of wooden utensils include a durable utensil that is unlikely to break and the beneficial impact on our environment. Though wood is an absorbent material and bacteria and water can be soaked in, these are quite ideal as a single-use utensil.
By educating ourselves about the negative impacts plastic has on our environment and ourselves, hopefully, convinces you as the reader to utilize the sturdy and environmentally friendly wooden utensils.