What's so bad about plastic straws?

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DENVER — Starbucks announced Monday that it will ban plastic straws from all of its stores globally in less than two years. But what’s so bad about plastic straws?

According to government research, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day and a portion of that plastic waste ends up in the ocean, harming the environment and affecting sea life.

Starbucks' move is estimated to eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws a year. The company becomes the largest food and beverage company operating globally to do so.

Supporter Lee Goodfriend, owner of the Denver restaurant Racines, is glad to see Starbucks joining the ranks.

Last month, she started using paper straws, eliminating hundreds of plastic straws used per day.

Goodfriend said they was using about 700 plastic straws a year, “but now we are going to maybe less than a hundred."

The campaign to eliminate straws has not been without controversy. According to a government article on the National Park Service's website, many Americans are concerned that halting any production means a loss of jobs.

And the plastic industry claims its straws "are lighter and more efficient than many alternatives which reduces their environmental footprint by reducing waste, energy use and carbon emissions."

But environmentalists argue that straw manufacturers could move away from producing disposable straws and switch to reusable straws.

When compared to other wastes, straws may seem like insignificant contributions to landfills. However, according to the National Park Service, creating a sustainable environment is about people's habits, including the way we use straws.

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