A straw is such a little thing. Probably most of us never give it a thought when we pull up to that drive-in window.
It is just a little straw, so it is not much to even think about until you realize: In the United States, we use 500 million straws a day. That is enough to fill up Yankee Stadium over nine times in a year.
If you used a plastic straw today, it is going to be here on the earth for another 90 years. That also goes for the other 499,999,999 straws used today.
As useful as plastics are in our world of instant gratification and convenience, plastics are a big problem. Plastic does not biodegrade. It photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces that can be mistaken for food by marine and land animals, making plastics a growing part of our food chain.
That ultimately means the things you eat have eaten (would the word “consumed” make you feel better?) other smaller creatures that have consumed even smaller creatures etc., etc., until some of the creatures have consumed pieces of photodegraded plastic and those pieces of plastic are shared up the food chain until they get to you.
I know that you did not realize plastics were on the menu when you had that seafood dinner. Plastics are not good for any of us, including the oceans and their creatures either.
The average person uses 1.6 straws per day. It’s no wonder they’re among the top 10 items collected every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. In fact, volunteers have picked up more than 9 million straws and stirrers from beaches and waterways over the 30-plus years of the International Coastal Cleanup.
Unfortunately, many more continue to make their way into our ocean, where they pose a real danger to sea turtles, albatross, fish and other ocean life.
So, what can you do? Here are some tips from the Ocean Conservancy and Keep Liberty Beautiful:
• First, stop using plastic straws.
• When offered a straw, simply say “no thanks.”’ It is a small step that goes a long way for ocean health.
• Say “no straw” at restaurants, fast food stores and bars when ordering a drink.
• Encourage food and drink establishments to only provide straws upon request or to consider using compostable straws, as one of our local food chains is now doing.
• Encourage others to skip the straw.
• Show your pride with “I Skip the Straw.” Tell others to do the same. Be sure to snap a selfie without a straw and use #skipthestraw to @OurOcean!
• Take the pledge at www.oceanconservancy.com.
• Help distribute outreach items available through the Ocean Conservancy to help get the message out. For materials, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
• Help at local waterway and beach cleanups this fall to clean up a many of those millions of straws already out there.
In a way, we are asking you to do less, which translates into fewer straws, less consumption and less waste.
Little things do matter. Fewer straws equal a healthy planet. So next time, skip the straw!