excerpted from an article on onegreenplanet.org
In the last 25 years, over 6 million straws and stirrers were removed from beaches during annual cleaning events. Perhaps it’s time to realize that HOW we eat and drink is just as important as WHAT we eat and drink. Here are four things to think about before you use a plastic straw.
Constituting more than 90 percent of all trash floating in the world’s oceans, plastic products are considered to be the most detrimental. When ranking all plastic products, straws are in the Ocean Conservancy’s top 10 most collected items at beach cleanups. (The latest data puts straws at #7 and plastic bags at #4.)
- Petroleum-Based Plastics Last Forever
Plastic straws are made of the petroleum bi-product polypropylene. This bi-product does not degrade naturally in the environment. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter.”
- Straws (and other lightweight plastics) are Easily Swept in to Gyres
In oceanography, the term “gyre” refers to any large, circular ocean current caused by the combination of the planet’s rotation and Earth’s wind pattern. The circular movement of gyres draws in debris that, eventually, becomes trapped. As more and more debris accumulates, garbage patches form and – since most oceanic trash is composed of plastics – float forever.
- Straws (and other plastics) Can Kill Marine Life
In the North Pacific alone, about 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastics end up in the digestive systems of fish. While this directly impacts the health of fish, the consumption of plastic products is then transferred into the food chain where animals such as whales, dolphins, and seals are affected. Worldwide, about 100,000 marine mammals unintentionally consume plastic products each year.
What Can We Do?
Right now at the Market, beverage vendors will not give out straws unless customers request them. Starting July 1st there will be no more plastic straws at the Market. The easiest way to eliminate the quantity of plastic straws ending up in the oceans is to stop using plastic straws. When ordering a beverage anywhere, simply ask for your drink with no straw.