Strawless Summer Kick Off – Plastic Straw Pollution Solutions for L.A. County
L.A. doesn’t have to suck.
The relentless traffic, all the annoying wannabes, and the really, really long lines for literally everything. (Seriously, I just wanted a cold brew & cronut!) Okay, fine. These things do suck! But, they don’t define us.
Diverse communities, vibrant businesses and a beautiful environment – this is what makes greater L.A. so desirable to call home. From the San Gabriel mountains to the Bay, we are a cultural and economic hub built on creativity, innovation and resilience. But escape from the hustle-and-bustle of undercover celebrities, hashtag fads and trendy avocado toast is only a short trip away. Whether it be to hike on nature trails, shred down mountains, swim in the sea or explore the desert, we are blessed with natural and urban settings that are uniquely intertwined.
Yet, our everyday lifestyle choices are having a negative impact that we can no longer ignore.
(Photo by: Henrique Vicente, Flickr. January 2017.)
Plastic pollution is everywhere.
The consequences and costs of convenience related to single-use plastic packaging for food and beverages are surfacing in our ocean, rivers, creeks and streams. It’s now estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean by mass than fish1.
Plastic drink-related litter is one of the top items we find at our volunteer cleanups in beach and watershed areas across greater Los Angeles. Single-use lids, cups, bottles, sleeves, stirrers, six-pack rings, and straws. You name it, we find it. Our region isn’t the only one that needs to consider rethinking the drink. Some 40% of all debris found in the environment is beverage-related2.
And all this trash isn’t just gross. It’s dangerous. Marine mammals, fish and birds often get entangled in plastic or mistake pieces of it for food. After accumulating our trash in their gullet, the animals can’t digest food properly and often die.
Just keep sippin’.
Greater L.A. can lead the way and help shift America away from single-use plastic items. We took a giant step when Heal the Bay helped pass the statewide plastic bag ban in 2014 and California voters upheld the policy last year.
But this summer, we’re zeroing in on plastic straws because they kind of suck.
Plastic straws of all shapes, sizes and colors are popping up everywhere from juice boxes to cocktails to unasked-for glasses of water. Collectively, it’s estimated that Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to fill up 125 school buses each day3 and wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times. Most plastic straws end up in landfills. The rest wind up polluting the environment and posing a threat to animals and aquatic life.
So, here’s what we are asking you to do. It’s simple and it works: If you don’t need a plastic straw, don’t use one!
The Strawless Summer
It is starting to heat up this summer, so now is the perfect time to cool off and skip the single-use plastic straw. We just launched our new destination, lasucks.org, where you can take the pledge to go strawless and share with your friends.
1. The New Plastics Economy Rethinking the future of plastics. January 2016. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf
2. Plastics BAN List. Publication. 5 Gyres, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, USTREAM. 2016. http://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publications/PlasticsBANList2016.pdf
3. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm