Eco Tip: Make It the Last Straw

Marsha Low, Weavers Way Environment Committee

Here’s an eye-popping statistic: Every day, 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States. Being single-use, virtually all are discarded, and many end up in our oceans and harm marine animals. (A video of scientists removing a straw embedded in a sea turtle’s nose went viral in 2015.) And since plastic never completely biodegrades but just breaks down into ever-smaller pieces, straws are helping to turn our oceans into plastic soup.

There are some easy, common-sense ways for us to reduce the use of straws: First, stop using them at home. Second, when dining out, tell your server you’ll skip the straw for your water or soft drink. (I’ve never understood this straw thing. Perhaps people think it’s more sanitary to drink out of a straw rather than directly from a glass, but about wine or beer or coffee or tea? No straw there!) And bring up the issue at restaurants you frequent. Speak to the manager and request that they stop providing straws, or at least require customers to ask if they really want one. Finally, there are alternatives to plastic straws; if you really need them, they are available in glass, bamboo or stainless steel.

Seattle recently passed a ban on plastic straws (and plastic utensils, too). That’s Seattle, you might say. But that’s no reason not to get started on your own personal plastic straw ban!