Monterey, California, is joining the already significant number of cities and areas fighting to combat excessive use of plastic straws all around the world. To reduce the amount of plastic waste that is accumulating in our landfills and in the oceans, the city launched its No Straw November campaign – an initiative aiming to encourage people to use less non-biodegradable and dangerous to the environment drinking straws.
The city is suggesting its citizens specify that they do not want plastic straws in their drink when they order one in a bar or at a restaurant, as well as asking food businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws. A large part of the campaign is to simply make people realize their habit when it comes to using plastic straws.
Ever since they gained popularity, straws have become something many of us do not think about at all but use almost automatically. “That’s a lot of what this campaign is about,” said Monterey Sustainability Coordinator Ted Terrasas, as reported by KSBW.”[I]t’s drawing attention to something that you’re not thinking about.”
The inspiration for the campaign came from Shelby O’Neil, a high school student who started the Junior Ocean Guardians as part of a Girl Scouts of America project with the goal of reducing the prevalence of single-use plastics. O’Neil contacted the city with the No Straw November idea – and got the leaders on board.
“I simply just laid out what was going on with our oceans’ health, and how I think we should bring this topic into conversation, and they agreed,” she said.
Whether we are conscious of the impact of our straw waste or not, plastic significantly affects the environment, wildlife, and people. Every year, we dump around 8.8 million tons of plastic into the oceans. Included in that is an enormous number of plastic straws – every day, we produce around 500 million of them. Around 700 species of marine animals are now facing extinction because of plastic pollution and our plastic trash has made it as far as the Arctic Ocean. Not to mention a new study found that plastic particles can be found in about 83 percent of the world’s tap water.
For now, No Straw November is a campaign – but depending on the results of the project and the response, it could become the first step to a new ordinance. Whatever the outcome, the initiative is a great way to reduce the amount of waste produced in the city – and, just as importantly, inform the public about why a plastic straw is not at all as harmless as many believe it to be.
To learn more about how to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
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