Your daily latte or iced tea could be doing more damage than just to your savings. Perhaps you already make sure they put your beverage in the reusable cup you brought. Their cups are made from recycled, post-consumer products. The drink sleeves are always 100% recycled materials. However, it’s not any of those that are causing a major issue. It’s something much smaller—the plastic straw.
Adrien Grenier; best known for his role in Entourage and as Annie’s boyfriend in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. He has recently launched a campaign to reduce the amount of single-use plastic usage in the United States. Plastic drinking straws are one of many single-use plastics that are contributing to the devastating damage and loss of marine wildlife. This single-use plastic item is used by millions of Americans every day. While most Americans are completely oblivious to the damage these tiny straws are having, Adrien Grenier is helping shine light to this cause.
According to one study by Ecocycle, Americans use more than 500 million straws daily. That’s enough straws to fill 127 school buses every day. One of the Top 10 items that are collected during ocean and beach cleanups are plastic straws. Unfortunately, these plastic straws cannot be recycled. As a result, these seemingly insignificant pieces of plastic wind up in landfills and oceans. Marine wildlife like fish, turtles, and other undersea creatures mistake these plastic straws for food and ultimately ingest them. Adriene Grenier was inspired to spearhead this cause when he saw a photo of a beached whale whose stomach contents were predominately various plastic items.
As a result, the Lonely Whale Foundation was born and its purpose is to educate consumers on dangers of plastics. The foundation’s campaign specifically targets single-use plastics items such as grocery bags, water bottles, and straws. Their hope is to educate and inspire Americans to be mindful of their plastic usage. For example, using sustainable alternatives like bringing your own reusable grocery bag and BPA free, reusable water bottles. For those who can’t seem to break their straw habit, there are fortunately environmentally friendly alternatives. Straws that are made from paper, glass, stainless steel and even bamboo offer safe alternatives to their plastic counterparts. You can take the sustainable pledge here, with the ‘I Choose to Refuse’. Another campaign geared towards educating and informing the public on the dangers of ‘throwaway’ culture.
The liquor brand, Bacardi, recently launched a campaign in which they ask consumers to ‘hold the straw’ the next time they order. The ‘no-straw’ movement is a part of an initiative called, “Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future”. Their environmental campaign along with the Surfrider Foundation has implemented this ‘no-straw’ policy at its North American headquarters. The Bombay distillery in Hampshire, England is also participating in the campaign.
Still not convinced to give up the plastic straw? Renée Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician believes that prolonged straw usage over time can cause wrinkles. The movement the mouth area makes when it wraps around a straw causes collagen breakdown. Straw sippers can also lose their natural elasticity more quickly, eventually causing fine lines and wrinkles.
Breaking a habit can be hard, like saying no to a straw that you normally say yes to. Not only that, but there is a lot of information about there—both good and bad surrounding environmental impact. Make sure to always do your research and check your sources. Making a difference starts with you. As Gandhi once said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’.