The straw: a seemingly harmless tool found in your drink that is a weapon to sea life. Straws come in the form of a plastic cylinder, one of the most structurally sound geometric shapes. This is because the cylinder spreads the weight evenly throughout its form, no matter the material. Due to this power structure, straws are a danger to the oceanic environment. Straws are often mistaken for food by animals because of their shape and size, causing them to choke and die of suffocation.
In the U.S. alone, over 500 million straws are used and discarded on a daily basis, which is enough to circle the earth two and a half times. Plastic straws are one of the top five most common items found on our shores during International Coastal Cleanups according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It takes a total of 200 years for plastic to break down into microscopic pieces, and even then never entirely breaking down. Most places can’t even recycle the material. Because of this, over 1,000,000 seabirds and 11,000 oceanic creatures die every year due to ingesting plastic. In addition to these alarming statistics, keep in mind that straws are the epitome of single-use nonessential plastic items.
Straws are unnecessary tools. They are a mere accommodation that kills off our ocean life. The simple answer to this mess is to ban plastic straw use altogether. Until then, when at a restaurant simply say ‘no to straws please’. Take it a step further and recommend that they only serve straws upon request. Although the adverse effect that plastic straws have on our community is a huge predicament, I realize that some who struggle with disabilities need this utensil to live. In this case, there are biodegradable options that break down into backyard soil, and reusable metal or paper straws found at your local stores.
I encourage you to rethink what straws mean to you and the world around you and switch over to biodegradable options. There are so many other options to use, such as biodegradable and reusable straws. Every time you use a plastic straw, think about all of the sea life affected by it.