Disposable plastic straws are in the news and all over social media these days. Plastic straws will be gone in the future, and we will shake our heads, wondering why we had ever used them.
In July 2018, Seattle, Washington banned plastic straws, becoming the first city in the US to do so. McDonald's in the UK and Starbucks in the US have also decided to eliminate straws by 2020. It will be a few years until these major corporations are finished implementing their new policies, but it is clear to those in oceanic environmental fields that this a change that must happen.
Here is the disturbing viral video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nostril. ***Warning*** not easy to watch.
Disposable drinking straws first became popular in the early 1900's due to highly contagious diseases. In the 1950's that popularity soared with new fast food restaurants, but the straws were made of paper. With the advent of plastics, disposable drinking straws were manufactured from polypropylene, and this is when the problem really began.
Currently the United States uses 500,000,000 plastic straws every day. End-to-end these straws would circle the planet 2.5 times daily, and there are only 325,000,000 people in the US. That is 1.6 straws per person, per day. Today consumers desire convenience more than anything, but this needs to change and change soon. All plastic that has ever been made still exists in one form or another, and we are littering our neighborhoods, waterways, and oceans. If nothing is done to combat this pollution, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Our ecosystem is so delicate and fragile that it is imperative that we, as an entire world, need to use alternatives to single-use plastic items. Small changes, like eliminating disposable straws, can have amazingly large effects over time.
Interested in more information?
Marine Conservation Society has some great information, and take it from me, they have super-soft, 100% organic t-shirts that help the cause!