Say No to Plastic Straws & Cutlery

By: Natalie Heath and Melinda Yates

If you pay attention, you can see a lot of plastic in bins on the street (or just thrown on the street), that could’ve been recycled, but there is so much more than what’s visible. Because we don’t see a lot of it, it’s easy to not really think about the consequences of a take-away smoothie cup here or a chocolate wrapper there. However, every day we all create waste on this planet, so we all need to be less complacent about the impact that has.  We also need to be a little more mindful about what we truly need. Single use items like plastic cutlery and plastic straws are things that no one NEEDS to use…ever!
Plastic straws have a devastating effect on the environment. The US alone uses and discards 500,000,000 plastic straws (yes, that’s 500 million) EVERY SINGLE DAY! Straws are made out of a petroleum-based plastic that is not recyclable or reusable. They are toxic to the environment and are consistently in the top 10 items of rubbish found on beach clean up operations. Straws and other plastics end up floating in our oceans where they leach toxic chemicals into the water and are swallowed by marine life, including sea birds, turtles, fish and ocean mammals. Once consumed, the plastic gets lodged in the animal’s throat or stomach and cause it to choke or starve to death.
The most efficient way to reduce the devastating effect that single use plastic is having on our environment is simply to refuse to use it. If you can’t do without a straw, there are reusable straws on the market made from materials such as glass, metal and even bamboo. All it takes is a little planning to make a huge difference. Now that the weather is getting warmer and sunnier, remember to keep some cutlery from home in your bag (and your reusable straw if you like to use one), just in case you decide to have an impromptu picnic at the beach. It’s a small thing that you can do to save the lives of innocent marine animals and have a more positive footprint on the planet.