The Last Straw?

Straws kill.You probably read that sentence and thought, “How hard would you have to stab someone with a straw to kill them?” Well, the answer is pretty hard. But that’s not what I’m talking about.No, the problem is we’re using over 500 million plastic straws a day in America! Five. Hundred. Million. And our waste management practices are so antiquated that most of the discarded straws, due to their size, slip into gutters and ultimately the ocean. Some environmental groups estimate that if we continue consumption at this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

The following, harrowing paragraph appeared in a recent New York Times piece by Adam H. Graham:

The United States goes through over 500 million plastic straws every day, according to Eco-Cycle, a United States-based nonprofit recycling organization. They get used for only a few minutes, but potentially last for hundreds of years in the ocean, and are among the top 10 pollutants collected during beach cleanups. Plastic straws kill marine life and choke reefs and beaches, never decomposing completely, but instead breaking into bits of microplastics, which eventually enter the food chain. And so the straw — ubiquitous in most restaurants, bars, cruise ships and luxury resorts — has become a prime example of how tourism can have a deeply negative effect on the environment.

But this terrible problem is not going unnoticed! Terrific reporting on this issue has led to a rare movement of government agencies, social activists and business leaders focused on eliminating this environmental hazard. From Priya Krishna, also of the New York Times:

Online campaigns like Stop Sucking and the Last Plastic Straw have declared war on the straws. Some cities, including Seattle and Malibu, Calif., have banned them. Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, has vowed to outlaw the sale of plastic straws before the end of the year.

Last month, Kerry Diamond began offering paper as well as plastic straws at Smith Canteen, her coffee shop in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, after talking to her brother Patrick Diamond, who heads the Rise Above Plastics campaign for the New York City chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

San Francisco will be debating a full ban of plastic straws in the coming weeks.

Danny Meyer is removing them entirely from his popular New York City eateries.

Human beings have contributed to the destruction of our planet for generations and it’s inspiring to see this many proclaim, “enough is enough!”

At AREENA we’re fond of saying people want to do good but they’re not always sure how. Encouraging your local restaurant or bar to stop using unnecessary plastic straws is certainly a way to make a difference.

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From New York, NY 10036

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