Straws: Sucking the Life out of the Ocean

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It’s a hot summer day, the waiter hands the cold, iced, refreshing drink. They also offer a straw. One doesn’t necessarily think about the potential danger a harmless straw can cause. Once finished, the straw goes in the recycling. Everything is good, but wait, newsflash. Straws are not recyclable. Americans tend to use 500 million drinking straws daily. This is equivalent to a total of 125 school buses filled with straws every day (National Park Service). Many people don’t realize how plastic can drastically affect marine life and the environment. Although straws are small, they happen to be one of the top ten items that cause harm to marine life and environment. Straws cannot be recycled since they are lightweight and too small to even separate (Strawless Ocean). There are various ways in which straws can potentially be the cause of deaths and serious injuries in animals (see Fig. 1). Most of waste ends up on beaches. The saddest part about this straw situation isn’t that people don’t quite understand the harm they are causing to the environment, but animals commonly mistake plastic for food and causes deaths.

Fig. 1 Sea Turtle is severely injured due to a plastic straw lodged in its nose.

Many people strongly believe that straws are extremely dangerous. Some are even taking action by boycotting straws and being a change in the environment. This problem has been recognized by the government as well. Gov. Jerry Brown signed for a legislation that prohibits full-service restaurants to distribute plastic straws (Phys). Boycotting straws is only the beginning to a new world. Researchers also believe that “environmentalists say they expect it will again make the state—which represents the world's fifth-largest economy—a trendsetter” (Phys). To make a change, the people have to be the change. Starbucks Coffee is a participant in this movement, one would have to ask for a straw now that they do not distribute straws willingly.

It’s important that people consider other lives that live on this planet. These helpless animals can do nothing about the condition of their environment. They are found in a situation that can be changed if people would better their decisions. These world problems cannot go unnoticed; it affects more than just marine animals. How can marine life be affected by straws and other plastics? How can it be prevented? And how can it be solved? These innocent animals lives are at risks and it’s time to reconsider and encourage a change before it’s too late.

In today's world, plastic is used is a variety of things. Water bottles, trash bags, shampoo bottles, and straws. These are all examples of things that can be extremely harmful to the planet and the life in it. What exactly happens when the plastic and water meet and how does it become extremely dangerous? When plastic comes into contact with the water, “it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as ‘microplastics’ rather than biodegrading or dissolving, which poses great threats to marine life including fish” (Strawless Ocean). Due to the fact that straws are a smaller piece of plastic, it’s harder for them be separated and can even contaminate the recycled loads.

Various marine animals are affected due to the plastic pollution found in the oceans. Research has shown that “Of the turtles studies in this research, 100% were found to have eaten plastic. These baby sea turtles were likely dying due to ingested plastic pollution, which threatens the species’ survival” (Strawless Ocean). This goes to show how potentially dangers plastic is to marine life. Considering the possibility of some of these animals to go extinct because of the decisions people make is selfish and horrible. When one species of animals goes extinct, this affects other animals as well. The food chain tends to change which makes it drastically hard for the other species of animals to find their food.

Problems always have a solution. In this particular case, the most obvious way to prevent any further harm to the environment with straws is to give them up. It’s such a small thing but can make a huge impact. If people give up straws, both the animals and environment will get better. It is understandable that straws are something a necessity, however, there are alternatives. A whole lot of alternatives too. From naturally degradable straws, to metal straws and glass straws. The prices of these straws may vary but a price can’t be put on the health of the environment. Choosing alternative straws that are better for marine life and even reusable is definitely something people should consider because plastic straws literally suck.

Considering the plastic straws, many people use them. Some questions that never seems to lingerie in their head is why do they use straws? What is their purpose? Is it worth killing the environment? According to some people, hygiene is the major reason as to why they use straws. Many people don’t feel comfortable with putting their lips on the glass due to the fact that others have utilized that same cup. Another reason may be that it’s easier for them to drink out of the straw rather than picking up the cup just to drink. Although these may be legitimate reasons, alternatives are definitely something to consider. They do the same exact job, but they don't end up harming marine life in the clear blue sea.

The future of this world is in the hands of the people. The actions that are made will reflect in the world they live in. Many people contribute to the problem, now it’s time to contribute to the solution. Helpless animals have no part in the plastic pollution that ends up in their homes. It’s a difficult thing to not feel safe in their own home. To help this problem be solved, people can start by rethinking plastic straws and spreading the word. This is the last straw, people can help the world by making it the last straw they utilize.  

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Straws: Sucking the Life Out of the Ocean. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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