A video taken off the coast of Costa Rica capturing the removal of a plastic straw that had been embedded in the nostril of an Olive Ridley sea turtle has caused an uproar for environmentalists.
This very video sparked the movement for businesses, individuals and cities to curb the use of plastic straws.
I believe Wake Forest can minimize the use of plastic straws. Cities such as Seattle, the first major city to do so, have already banned the use of plastic straws. Businesses can receive a fine of $250 if caught with these “tubes of death,” Kerry Dougherty said. As well, a company like Starbucks has made a pledge to stop the use of plastic straws in their stores by 2020, through the use of strawless lids and alternative material lids.
The reasoning behind the ban is that straws are made from type 5 plastic that is not accepted by most curbside recycling programs. These straws then end up in our oceans, where they could potentially take up to 200 years to break down but not fully decompose, according to Get Green Now statistics.
When plastic degrades, it releases harmful chemicals, unlike paper straws, which are completely biodegradable.
And the consequences are more harmful than we think. In fact, 86 percent of sea turtles globally are affected by plastic debris. According to The Odyssey, plastics can obstruct eating, breathing and reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.
Straws are currently the 8th most found ocean trash in cleanup by quantity as recently as January 2019, according to Get Green Now statistics.
There are undemanding alternatives that can reduce the use of plastics in general. It is as simple as rejecting the use of single plastic uses like straws. Such alternatives for straws include glass, stainless steel and paper being the most cost effective. The half a cent more for a paper straw is worth sparing the life of a turtle.
Wake Forest is an up and coming city that has the ability to enforce such laws on small businesses to help reduce the use of plastic straws. Even simple things as practicing self made rules in your own home make a huge difference.
So, until town commissioners take action, next time you sit down at a restaurant, don’t open up that straw.