We’ve all heard that single-use items are a no-no, and you definitely shouldn’t be using those plastic straws anymore. Turns out, though, being sustainable is less about reusable items and more about how you wash them.
Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at the “payback periods” of four kitchen items: straws, sandwich bags and wraps, coffee cups, and forks. The “payback periods” were the number of times an item has to be used (or reused) before it makes up for the environmental impact of a single-use plastic item.
The study looked at three main categories to assess the payback period: energy use, global warming potential, and water consumption. Beeswax wraps, silicone bags, and bamboo reusable straws all tested worse than a single-use plastic item. But why?
Well, when you have to wash a wrap, bag, or straw, you typically do so by hand in the sink and use water. Other items can be placed in a dishwasher with a multitude of other items, which helps cut down on their resource usage.