We use plastic every day for bags, straws and bottles, but have you ever thought about what happens after you throw it away? Plastic trash takes decades to biodegrade, breaking into tiny particles called microplastics, which eventually end up in the ocean. Sea creatures such as turtles, fish and whales then digest the deadly material, which clogs their stomachs, killing them.
In the wake of these alarming reports, McDonald's replaced plastic straws with paper alternatives at all of its restaurants in the UK and Ireland. Some customers praised the fast food giant for its environmentalism, while others complained that the paper straws were gross. On social media, critics shared photos of soggy straws, claiming the product dissolved in their drink, tainting the flavor with cardboard.
To some people, the experience of eating Mickey D's trumps plastic trash's damage to the environment. More than 40,000 McDonald's lovers signed an online petition, demanding the return of plastic straws. "They’re more like cardboard and it leaves it all soggy and wet when you next go to sip it, the straw comes apart," commented under Melissa M. under 'Reasons for signing.' Kim. K agreed, writing, "no point in having a paper straw with a plastic lid, much rather have a paper lid and a plastic straw."
McDonald's pushed back against the backlash, claiming their paper straws are sufficiently durable. "Our suppliers have made us paper straws that last at least 30 minutes in most, if not all liquids," a spokesperson told The Mirror. "They were introduced following customer feedback, and we are pleased to be doing the right thing in removing plastic from our stores."
After the story went viral, some people mocked the critics, claiming this is much ado about nothing. "Talk about first world problems," snarked Twitter user @1298 Plimmer, while @WJN Gaming offered this message: "If you’re one of the 30k people who have signed the petition for @McDonalds to bring back plastic straws because it “ruins your drink”, your priorities need a serious looking at - your plastic straw aids in ruining the planet, so suck it up and use a god damn paper straw."
According to Metro, some eco-phobes discovered a solution to the Paper Straw-pocalypse: ask McDonald's workers for a plastic coffee lid, which fits snugly on all cups, and has a raised opening for sipping. That way, you get an adequate suckhole without the risk of the straw (allegedly) turning your milkshake into a papershake. On social media, fast food fans shared photos of the creative mash-up, declaring the idea a "game changer."
The 'plastic coffee lid hack' is great news for McDonald's junkies, but for the environment and marine life, not so much.