While I was recently scrolling through the internet, I discovered a popular video with 32 million views titled “Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril — “‘NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS.’” This video became difficult for me to watch after only a few seconds because it depicts a sea turtle in pain as marine biologist Christine Figgener, removes a plastic straw from its nose. After watching this heartbreaking video, I decided to learn more about what measures could be taken to reduce plastic straw use and waste.
All sorts of plastic items, and particularly straws, have recently frequented the daily news due to several countries and companies banning their use. Plastic straws are usually only used once, but once discarded, it takes one 450-1000 years to decompose. New Zealand was the first country to ban plastic straws entirely, and many are following the trend. Several countries have planned to meet a plastic-free objective by specific dates, such as Scotland by 2019, France by 2020, and Taiwan by 2030.
Major companies have also begun eliminating the use of plastic straws with their products. Starbucks plans to eliminate all single-use plastic straws from their locations by 2020, opting to use new strawless lids. With Starbucks being one of the larger food companies in the country, their taking a stand will hold tremendous weight in helping to convince other companies to do the same. American Airlines, another major company, is also abandoning plastic straws starting November of this year. These countries and companies account for a large distribution of single-use plastic straws and items, so their efforts are truly helping reduce the excessive plastic items discarded in the world.
I am still left in dismay over the copious amount of plastic items left in the ocean, weighing in at least 150 million tons. The plastic floods ashore on islands thronged with populations of birds, seals, and many other animals often causing them to mistake the plastic for food and choke to death. The harsh realities of plastic can be seen on these islands that were once teeming with diverse creatures, but are now a small population that contains no sufficient food source.
The news that several countries and companies are banning plastic straws is great to hear, but most of these plans are not immediate; instead, they are set years in the future. It is a relief to know that major corporations are attempting to reduce the use of plastic straws, but individual consumers should be making an effort as well. Everyone has the right to choose how much plastic they use and discard per day, either in the form of straws, bags, and bottles. The less we use, the less is needed to be manufactured in factories in the first place.
In my case, the plastic disposable straws in my kitchen pantry have always seemed like a regular household item that poses no threat, but I quickly became hesitant to use them after I learning of their dangers. I’m choosing to take effective measures in my everyday life regarding single-use plastic, such as always using eco-friendly straws or bringing reusable shopping bags to grocery stores. The world depends on a plastic-free environment in order to function properly, so it must be maintained by beneficial decisions from humans. The choice is ours, we can let this use of plastic continue to create a disaster or make an effort to reduce our use in the name of our planet.