Are you one of those who loves clean sand and ocean waters; who loves and cares about fish, birds, and the interconnected web of life (of which we are an integral part); and who appreciates the centuries required to create healthy ecosystems — not to mention the billions of years of preparation? If so, you must be deeply concerned about the harm plastic and plastic straws cause our precious Earth.
You probably took special action on Earth Day to care for our common home. Whether or not your action concerned plastic straws, I hope that what follows will be enlightening and motivating.
The theme of the 2018 Earth Day was to focus on ending plastic pollution by 2020. Researchers estimate that 90 percent of seabirds and many whales, dolphins, and other fish have ingested plastics, including straws. According to the World Economic Forum, without action the amount of plastics in oceans will exceed the amount of fish, pound for pound, by 2050. Many forms of plastic pollution need attention, but ending the use of plastic straws is both easy and important.
Every day in the U.S. alone about 500,000,000 plastic straws are used once and thrown “away” — but there is no “away”! Where do they go? They wind up in landfills where the toxins can seep into water supplies; they add to the estimated annual 8.5 million metric tons of plastic debris in oceans; they are on beaches and in the ocean, causing serious harm to fish and birds and ecosystems and spoiling recreation time for sun- and water-lovers. They also expose us to unhealthy toxic chemicals.
Educated by films, news reports and movements, more and more individuals, businesses and even countries have pledged to stop using plastic straws. Efforts to curb plastic use increased after British naturalist Sir David Attenborough presented his 2017 BBC series Blue Planet II. The series, which called particular attention to the issue of ocean plastics, even prompted Queen Elizabeth II to ban plastic straws and bottles on all royal properties, including public cafes.
The UK government’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove explains why his government will end the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs in England: “Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now.”
McDonald’s in the UK will start a trial in May to use paper straws instead of the normal plastic ones. It will also try out a scheme where straws are kept behind the counter, and only given out to customers on request. McDonald’s chief executive Paul Pomroy said: “Customers have told us that they don’t want to be given a straw and that they want to have to ask for one, so we’re acting on that.
This proves that contacting restaurants can be effective. Restaurants in Edgewater, Chicago, have pledged not to use plastic straws. You might know of other places that have taken action. The movement grows as people learn about it and take action!
In February 2018, Scotland announced intentions to ban plastic straws by the end of 2019. Toronto and other cities have also taken action. As part of an initiative of the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, to eliminate plastic straws from stadiums, Chicago’s White Sox baseball team will no longer serve plastic straws with drinks. Fans can request a biodegradable straw instead.
I encourage readers to learn all they can about plastic straw pollution (see sites below) so that they will be ready to educate others and to encourage businesses — in person or by mail — not to offer them. Those who need straws can ask for biodegradable ones. It’s easy to say “No plastic straw, please” when ordering drinks.
Some sites with information about plastic straws:
2.37 min. trailer for strawsfilm.com.
See also https://ecospiritualityresources.com/2017/06/14/eight-reasons-pl…ic-water-bottles/