Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Every single day. And where do all these plastic straws end up? Sadly, the majority travel to our oceans. Some local recycling programs do accept plastic straws, but the reality is most people don’t think to recycle this small piece of plastic and it ends up tossed out with the rest of the trash. While it might seem like a harmless disposable, when straws end up in landfills, they easily get blown away and end up in the oceans (along with 8.8 million tons of plastic, annually).

Once in our oceans, straws (along with other plastic waste) have disastrous effects on marine life and ecosystems. Currently, around 700 marine species are being threatened with extinction due to plastic in the form of ingestion, entanglement, and pollution. (Anyone remember the horrific video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose?) Plastic is not an organic material, it’s composed of petroleum compounds, so it doesn’t biodegrade, but rather breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time.

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Unfortunately, this means if marine animals aren’t directly harmed by plastic in the form of entanglement or injury, they will be subject to endless microplastic pollution. Studies have yet to show the definitive impact of ingesting plastic particles on marine life, but some scientists have found that fish are eating plastic “like fast food” which causes a higher chance of death in juvenile years. Further, the fish who survive adolescence will be virtually filled with plastic compounds that travel all the way up the food chain to humans. The reality is, plastic is endangering the natural balance and life cycle of marine animals and if marine ecosystems collapse – a scenario that some conservation experts fear could occur by 2048 – the consequences for the planet as a whole will be severe.

But with so many plastic straws being used every day, how can we encourage people to stop? Well, one campaign is using humor to answer that question. The Lonely Whale Foundation, co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier, has spearheaded a new campaign called Strawless Ocean that features the poignant tagline – #StopSucking. And yep, you guessed it, the campaign is urging folks to stop sucking on plastic straws.

If we don’t act now, by 2050 there will literally be more plastic in the oceans than fish. By not using plastic straws, you can personally help keep over 584 out of the oceans every year! 

 

 

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If you’re ready to Stop Sucking, you can take the pledge and then post a photo of yourself going straw less with the hashtag #stopsucking. When at a restaurant, tell the server to “hold the straw” and use a glass or steel alternative instead. Remember to bring your reusable straw with you so that if you do encounter a situation that requires sipping, you can do it responsibly.

For more tips on how to live a more environmentally friendly life, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

 

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Lead Image: Stop Sucking/Strawless Ocean

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