Start saying no to using plastic straws

Sara Remar , Courier Staff

Restaurants, fast food chains, even households hold one of the deadliest pollutants that fill our oceans. Day after day, drink after drink, humans use over 500 million straws a day.

We put straws in our orange juices, smoothies, iced teas from McDonald’s, Polar Pops full of Coke and in our glasses of milk. What are the reasons we use plastic straws? Some could argue they use them to stir their drinks. Others may say they need it to stop the ice from bombarding their face when sipping on the quencher. The most valid reason I can think of is medical reasons. I personally know many people that cannot physically consume fluids without the help of a straw, but even they rarely use these forbidden plastic disposable straws. Immediately sitting at any given restaurant, the waiter or waitress tosses a handful of straws on the table, and we instinctively reach for one, unwrap the paper and plop the straw in our glass. Rarely do we think twice or recognize the waste we cause. Where does that straw go? Straws, although plastic, cannot be reused for the thin amount of substance and the potential contamination. There is no point to melt down such a small amount of plastic that cannot be used for much. So these straws enter our landfills, so we think. What if I told you these straws don’t go to our landfills, but instead float towards our oceans?

These straws float side by side with all the creatures of the sea. Of all the sea turtles in the sea, 100 percent of tested sea turtles have ingested plastic. Plastic is a very broad category, so why do we blame this on straws? Because of the advances in recycling, we can reasonably assume that plastic straws, blow out of our landfills, beaches and especially vacation resorts. Plastic straws are the number one form of plastic found in ocean clean ups. Straws are so thin, that they have been found in throats of sea birds, nostrils of sea turtles and stomachs of most marine life. Who knew that a simple tool for our convenience could be the most deadly thing in our oceans? It has been projected by many reliable sources that in the year 2050 we will have more plastic straws in our oceans than fish. Our oceans make up about 70 percent of our Earth and hold approximately 3.5 trillion fish. If there will be more straws in our oceans than fish, we can expect to see straws covering the water on our tropical excursions, find plastic in our water systems and have straws drift from our freshwater pools, into our large bodies of water. A simple “no, thank you” to straws could potentially save half of our marine life, in and out of water. If not refusing straws for our animals and our planet, Mother Earth, refuse straws for the humans that use ocean water to convert into drinking water. Save our oceans, turtles and marine life. Save the planet and all who dwell on it.