Earth Day was an exciting one for social media this year! I actually loved seeing all the posts reminding me to recycle, get outside, clean up the environment, hug a tree, do yoga, etc. One theme I noticed that seemed especially popular this year was the hashtag #skipthestraw. Of course, we are familiar with the importance of reducing our dependence on single use plastics, so why an entire movement dedicated to just straws?
A quick google search and an interesting Instagram poll revealed some of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- In the US alone, 500 million straws are used every day! That's enough to fill 125 school buses of straws daily. (nps.gov) After a year that's enough straws to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times!
- Straws can't be recycled. They are made from a plastic that IS recyclable (polypropylene), but not in the small shape and form of straw. According to livegreen.recyclebank.com 'size is the biggest barrier to straw recycling.'
- It takes roughly 200 years for a straw to decompose! For comparison, a banana peel takes about a month. If somebody could just figure out a way to suck Diet Coke through a banana peel, you would be a hero. I'm claiming credit for the idea though.
If you are still unconvinced of the significance of this movement, google 'sea turtles and straws'.
Even the most plastic-loving of hearts will feel a tiny squeeze at the image of a straw being removed from the nose of a sea turtle. And if it doesn't, well, that's on you. I had already resolved to ditch the single use plastics in my home, but this still felt like a slap on the wrist. Straws have made their way into our daily lives, we can't seem to get away from them.
Even a small survey on my personal Instagram account revealed varying degrees of commitments to skipping the straw. There was a healthy balance of those unwilling to be inconvenienced, those who were skipping straws to reduce mouth wrinkles and those who were aware of the cause and actively supporting it. I was inspired by some to change my habits in restaurants, at home and in the drive thru. There are so many ways to start!
Straws are not a necessity!
Last I checked my lips still work all on their own, no straw required! However, if you do feel the need to suck (no pun intended) reusable straws come in many forms and colors! Bright bendy silicon, lightweight shiny steel and even a Kickstarter campaign called FinalStraw for a straw that folds into a small keychain, of which I may or may not have purchased multiples.
So, I guess I can say I'm now #skippingthestraw! Slightly embarrassed to be so late to the party, happy to have made it at last. Praying that wasn't one of my straws I watched being extracted from that turtle.
Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Brooke Ewing. You can find her on Instagram @brookenorma.