Some shocking facts appear when one considers the consequences of plastic “convenience” items. Scientists predict that if we ignore the issue, the amount of plastics in our oceans will exceed the amount of fishes pound for pound by the year 2050. Shedd Aquarium is addressing the problem of single-use plastics. Their campaign, Shedd the Straw, was launched on Earth Day, 2017 with the focus on reducing the use of plastic straws. Americans use 500 million straws each day – approximately equivalent to the weight of 1,000 cars. Straws are composed of a petroleum byproduct, polypropylene, that is mixed with colorants and plasticizers which are not biodegradable and nearly impossible to recycle. Straws from years past may be in smaller pieces, but they are still with us. Plastics impact aquatic life – from the sea turtle that had a 4” plastic straw stuck in its nostril, to the fact that 90% of seabirds ingest plastic, ocean life is threatened. Often marine animals mistake plastics for food and starve to death on a full stomach. The chemicals in the plastics work their way through the food chain with yet to be determined effects on human health.
No doubt this is a critical issue that needs immediate attention, and each of us can do something to help. Support the Aquarium’s Shedd the Straw campaign and remind your restaurant server that you don’t want a straw. Take the pledge here to reduce your plastic use. If a straw is important to you, there are reusable and compostable alternatives. Speak up and speak out to everyone about relinquishing the plastic straw habit. Ask the restaurants you frequent to refrain from automatically including a straw with any beverage, and please thank those restaurants that are helping to reduce plastic straw use. You will be part of the solution!