- Straws and other single use plastic items like cups, spoons and stirrers that do not biodegrade harm the environment by ending up in landfill or the ocean.
- Straws break down into smaller pieces of mircroplastics that fish eat and enter into the human food chain.
- Simple efforts, like using reusable straws, may seem insignificant, but when embraced by thousands or millions can have a hugely positive environmental impact.
Skip the Plastic Straw
More than a few years ago, my partner, Warren, jumped on the “skip the straw” band wagon after reading about a Milo Cress, a then 9-year-old 4th grader who determined – using his 4th grade math and analytical skills – that Americans consumed about 500 million plastic straws a day. Now that’s a lot of straws, about 1.6 per person per day.
Whether this is an accurate number or not, it highlights how something as seemingly innocuous as a straw can cause tremendous environmental damage, especially to waterways, oceans and sea life.
How Plastic Straws Pollute Our Oceans and Kill Wildlife
Due to beach littering, straws are particularly prone to end up in the ocean. Winds carry these small light weight objects from trash cans and collection facilities, boats, barges and ships into the water. Rather than biodegrade, they break into smaller and smaller particles, known as microplastics, that marine life mistakes for food. Millions of turtles, seabirds, and other wildlife die each year from complications related to plastic consumption.
If you’re a fish lover, you have extra reason for concern. Until recently, researches thought that the plastic ingested by salmon, flounder, perch and other fish stayed in the creature’s guts and possibly liver. Gutting the fish before serving appeared to eliminate the risk to humans. Recent research, however, suggests that these tiny bits of plastic migrate into the fish’s flesh. While long-term health effects are still difficult to gauge, it’s safe to say that adding plastic to the food chain is not a good thing.
Save the Oceans by Replacing Single Use with Reusable Straws
Milo, the fourth grader who estimated our daily straw consumption, sparked a national conversation which led Starbucks and other travel and hospitality companies to phase out plastic straws. Still the word is awash in single-use straws and other plastics that contaminate our environment.
While refusing a straw may seem a small gesture, when millions of people stopping using them, it will have a huge positive impact. If you prefer drinking from a straw, but hate the damage they do to the environment, consider reusable straws, which come in a variety of materials, styles and colors. Just as you can personalize your phone with a case, ring holder or charm, you can accessorize your drink with a straw that reflects your style and commitment to saving the environment.