Is Banning Straws Actually Helping The Environment?

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By: Samantha Steinberg

Yes, yes, and yes! The United States alone uses about 500 million plastic straws each day. A lot of those straws end up in the ocean causing pollution and harming marine life.

Restaurants and cities started questioning straws after Christine Figgener, a sea turtle expert at Texas A&M University filmed a video of her colleagues and her removing a plastic straw from the nose of a sea turtle in Costa Rica. She predicts that the turtle swallowed the straw, choked on it, and then tried to throw it up, but it got stuck in its nose instead. They were later able to release the turtle back into the ocean after reassuring that it was healthy and would be able to survive in the wild. However, not all of the turtles have the chance to be saved by marine biologist.

Plastic has been found in 100% of sea turtles because they either get confused between food and plastic, and the breakdown of plastic pollutes the ocean causing the contamination of their food. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and founder of Ocean Collectiv, says, “We’re on track, if we keep polluting as we are, to have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.”

In July 2018, Seattle became the largest city in the U.S.  to ban plastic straws along with Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and many hotel chains including the Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott. Many other companies have followed suit while some people also refuse the straw offered at restaurants with their water.

I agree that it is unnecessary to use a plastic straw and if someone truly needs a straw they can use an alternative straw that is made out of paper, glass, or metal. Next time you are given a straw with your drink maybe think about not using it. Help better the environment by reducing, reusing, recycling, rethink, repair, and refuse!