Protecting our oceans is a crucial initiative that is impacted by each of our own individual actions. From being a home to thousands of animals, to producing the majority of the world’s oxygen, and many more benefits as shown below, the ocean is a vital piece of Earth’s ecosystem. However, human consumption habits and practices are having a huge negative impact. Plastic debris is flowing into the ocean at an unbelievably high rate – according to a 2010 study, 8 million tons of plastic trash are going into the ocean every year. This has resulted in grim consequences for around 700 species of marine life, and the continuous spread of trash all over the ocean contributing to increased pollution. According to some projections, with our current practices plastic trash in the ocean could exceed the amount of fish by 2050.
So, what can we do to help reduce the pollution of our oceans? One initiative is centered on eliminating plastic straws, resulting in the creation of Skip the Straw Day, which this year is February 28th! Straws may seem inconsequential at first glance because of their size. Unfortunately, many animals mistake them for food, which can cause injury or death. According to the Ocean Conservancy, on average we use 1.6 straws per day, and straws are frequently among the top 10 items collected in annual beach clean-up programs.
While they are not the top contributor to ocean trash, curbing our use of plastic straws is important, and an initiative that already has some momentum! What makes plastic straws unique in comparison to other plastic waste, and makes them easier to stop using, is we’ve already created ocean-friendly alternatives, like paper straws and reusable straws. Paper straws have a much faster decomposition rate, and if ingested will not cause as much harm to marine life. Reusable straws are also a great option, because you can continuously use and wash them, leading to less overall trash production.
We can all do our part to eliminate plastic straws in both our personal lives and businesses. In your own life, replacing single-use cups with reusable drink ware for your afternoon coffee or water is a great way to reduce your plastic-waste production. In terms of your business, sustainability is increasingly becoming an important factor to many customers, and displaying your commitment to the environment will help you foster a good reputation and brand. Take the pledge on February 28th to replace plastic straws with an ocean-friendly alternative to do your part in protecting the planet.
1. Kollar, Sarah. “Preventing Marine Debris, One Straw at a Time”. National Geographic, 28 Nov. 2016, oceanconservancy.org/blog/2016/11/28/preventing-marine-debris-one-straw-at-a-time/. Accessed 22 February 2021.
2. Parker, Laura. “Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic”. National Geographic, 23 Feb. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment. Accessed 22 February 2021.
3. Parker, Laura. “Eight Million Tons of Plastic Dumped in Ocean Every Year”. National Geographic, 13 Feb. 2015, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/150212-ocean-debris-plastic-garbage-patches-science. Accessed 22 February 2021.
4. Rawson-Harris, Joshua. “Paper vs Plastic Straws: A Comparison”. Tembo Paper, 23 July 2020, www.tembopaper.com/news/paper-vs-plastic-straws-a-comparison. Accessed 22 February 2021.
5. “Skip the Straw”. Ocean Conservancy, oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/outreach-education/skip-the-straw/. Accessed 22 February 2021.