Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomeOceanThe Plastic Straw And How It Is Killing Our Oceans

The Plastic Straw And How It Is Killing Our Oceans

Here’s a cold hard fact that a lot of people don’t know.

Every single plastic straw you have ever used in your life is still on this planet now.

Plastic does not biodegradable, so that straw you had in your cocktail, the ones you gave out at parties, weddings, events – that straw – it’s still here somewhere. Most likely in the ocean. No doubt you’ve seen this on social media. Plastic shaming has become somewhat of a craze lately. Good. I’m glad, but how much do you really know about where your straw ends up?

Plastic Straws Are Injuring Ocean Wildlife
Plastic Straws Are Injuring Ocean Wildlife

Ever actually questioned HOW it ended up in that turtle’s nose? Here’s how.

The LONG Life Of a Plastic Straw

Every day Americans use – and almost immediately discard – up to half a billion plastic beverage straws, so how many does that mean are actually being made? I think we are too scared to release that stat, but let’s just say a lot more than 500 million a day. Plastic straws and plastic, in general, is made using toxic gases harmful to our environment.

So there’s step one; the toxic production

Step 2 is where fast food chains/restaurants/cafes etc get it wrong – offering the customer a plastic straw with EVERY drink. Apart from beer and wine. Ever thought about why it is socially acceptable to not drink beer and wine with a straw but every other drink just MUST come with one? What’s that all about?

Step 3 is your single use. The average ‘lifeline’ of a plastic straw in your hands is 20 minutes. It then gets discarded and NOT recycled and that’s the last you (think) you see of it.

Step 4 is the journey. Straws are light and small, they get blown out of bins, thrown on the floor and make their way to the ocean. How exactly? The wind carries them to water channels – lakes, rivers, etc – and they work their way along these bodies of water until they end up in the ocean. Then there are the instances that they are just cold-heartedly thrown into the ocean.

Step 5 is the destruction. Now they are in the ocean they are there to stay. They may get broken up into smaller bits, more commonly known as micro-plastics, which in themselves are the most harmful kinds of plastic in the ocean. Microplastics are small, mixed plastics which resemble food for marine life. Eating these microplastics, which they inventible will do, causes their stomachs to swell, not allowing any actual food inside and causing death. If marine life avoids digesting these micro-plastics they may just get caught up in the straws, either broken down or whole and live an uncomfortable life until death (do we need to show you the turtle again?).

Step 6, the straw lives happily ever after, floating in the ocean, inside a fish’s stomach, wrapped around a turtle’s nose. The invisible, everlasting, toxic plastic straw.

What To Do – Rethink Your Choices

All of this, just so we don’t have to use the mouth we were born with to drink from. Re-think your choices. Refuse the plastic straw. If you do have to use a straw we recommended steel life-long straws. Girls that Scuba designed their own “suck on this instead” pack of 3 steel straws with a cleaner to help stop the use of plastic straws.

Sarah Richard
Sarah Richard
Sarah Richard is the founder of Girls That Scuba, a community of female scuba divers making waves around the globe.


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