There is a local grassroots movement to help St John become a plastic-free island. When ordering a drink at a bar or restaurant, request “no straw, please.”
Walk down any street in town or any beach and you will inevitably find plastic drink straws on the ground. They are single-use items, and on our little island of St John, we use a whole heap of them every day. They litter our landscape and end up getting blown into our gorgeous waters, where turtles and fish can mistake them for sea creatures, eat them, and die.
Pollution is ugly. Plastic drinking straws cannot be composted and do not biodegrade either. They are an environmental menace! They can take up to 700 years to breakdown.
Yes when you find a straw that has been lying in the sun for a long time it will become brittle and fall apart but the pieces are still there for a long, long time. The damaging environmental part is the bisphenol A entering the sea and harming sea life.
For those who love straws, there is an alternative to plastic. Caribbean Packaging in St. Thomas sells straws that are made of paper, and they biodegrade. Made by World Centric, these straws are “certified compostable” They are made of Ingeo, which is derived from plants and does not use any petroleum-based plastic at all.
The basic raw materials for Ingeo™ biopolymer are carbon dioxide and water. Growing plants take these building blocks from the atmosphere and the soil, combining them to make carbohydrates (sucrose and starch) through a sunlight driven process called photosynthesis.
Today, NatureWorks LLC, the inventor of Ingeo™ uses dextrose, a natural sugar derived from the starch in kernels of corn (maize), as the primary raw material for Ingeo™ biopolymer. Other agricultural raw materials such as rice, sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat and sweet potatoes can also serve as sugar sources to make Ingeo™ biopolymer.
The dextrose or corn (maize) used is known as “Number 2 Yellow Dent.” This is the most common corn variety, with more than 80% of the crop grown in the United States to feed animals. No. 2 Yellow Dent corn can also be used to make food products like dextrose and fructose (used as sweeteners in a wide range of food products). No. 2 Yellow Dent is considered safe as a raw material for human food products.
In industrial composting, Ingeo straws and other disposable packaging bio-degrade within two months, a bit longer for home composting.
I have just dropped off a box at Cruz Bay Landing for them to try out. Hopefully they will catch on and more bars and restaurants will begin serving their drinks with these environmentally friendly straws.
Now that’s drinking responsibly!!!
For a greener tomorrow,
Dan Boyd of Island Solar is a Virgin Islands Energy Office authorized vendor. For more information, call Boyd on his cell phone at 340-626-9685 or by email at [email protected]