Do We Need To #StopSucking?

Do We Need To #StopSucking?

Does one plastic straw really have an impact?


I feel like this #StopSucking campaign popped up out of nowhere. Suddenly, Starbucks committed to completely phasing out straws and a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon.

Why did it happen so fast? Probably because (for most) it's a convenient switch. And once the bandwagon was off, people began to believe that by just banning straws we could save the world. Plastic is bad, so if we ban one plastic product, problem solved, right?

Not really.

Let's look at it from both sides.

First, the pros

1. 175 million plastic straws are used every day.

That must be a lot of plastic for our oceans.

2. Straws are hard to recycle because of their size, so most end up in landfills or oceans.

If you haven't seen that video of the turtle having a straw pulled out of it's nostril, where have you been?

3. We don't really need straws.

You can literally just not use one. Plus, we already have a growing market for multi-use and biodegradable straws for people who like using them.

4. We can change the shape of lids.

This also eliminated the need for straws, which Starbucks has already started doing in some places.

The cons:

1. Some people actually do need straws.

And a sensitivity to certain textures means reusable metal or bamboo straws might not be an option.

2. Plastic straws only account for 0.02% of plastic pollution.

It may be a lot of straws, but their small size and weight don't make as much of a difference as other plastic products.

3. Starbuck's new lids require more plastic than using straws.

4. Straws aren't that much of a threat to marine life.

Compared to plastic bags, balloons, fishing gear, or microplastics, straws aren't a huge concern to experts.

Banning straws won't have the impact that we think it will. It doesn't hurt for you to deny them in your Starbz, but this ban is not inclusive to some people's needs. This ban is not going to do much for the amount of plastic we dump into our oceans, but it might jump start some more awareness about waste.

Reducing the number of straws we use is just the start. Other types of plastic that we use every day are more concerning than straws. Pounds of plastic bags are found in the stomachs of dead marine life. Microplastics leach chemicals into the water and into the bodies of fish we eat.

There is a lot more we need to do to clean our oceans and empty landfills. Don't get complacent with just getting rid of one unnecessary item. Straws are just a stepping stone into solving a much larger problem.

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11 Ways to Save the Great Barrier Reef

The reef is alive. So what do we do now?

We've all seen the tweets. "The Great Barrier Reef is dead!" "Humans killed a 25 million-year-old reef, I hate humans." "We're so evil, how could we do this to the Earth?" Twitter and Facebook have exploded with comments not unlike these. What people don't realize is that the reef is still alive, but in deep trouble. It is now more important than ever for people to take initiative and take steps towards saving this important reef ecosystem. Here's how you can help.

1. CARE: Don't just assume other people will help!

Don't let yourself fall victim to the bystander effect. It is up to each and every individual to save the Great Barrier Reef, along with the rest of the world's coral reefs.

2. Conserve water to reduce runoff.

You may not live nearby the ocean, but dangerous chemicals can still find their way there through lakes, rivers, and streams. By conserving water, you will reduce the risk of runoff and therefore reduce negative effects on coral reefs.

3. Dispose of trash properly.

Disposing of trash properly will decrease the risk of it reaching the ocean where it can harm marine wildlife and throw off the natural pH levels of the ocean.

4. Carpool to reduce CO2 emissions.

CO2 emissions are the leading cause of climate change's quickening rate. By carpooling, CO2 emissions are decreased, slowing the rate of global warming. Slowing global warming will effectively reduce coral bleaching (the phenomenon that currently ails more than 90% of the Great Barrier Reef).

5. Only buy appliances with the Energy Star label to reduce Global Warming's effects.

Appliances with the Energy Star label are better for the environment.

6. Reduce the use of air conditioning and heating units.

By cutting down on the use of air conditioners and heating units, you are reducing HFCs. This will slow the rate of climate change.

7. Purchase LED light bulbs to slow climate change.

LEDs use up to 80% less energy than regular light bulbs. Conserving energy is an important step in slowing climate change.

8. Support the Clean Power Plan.

This is a link to tell your government to support the Clean Power plan. Supporting this plan may convince government officials to take more steps towards protecting the environment. There are also websites similar to this one that petition government officials to take action.

9. Donate.

This is a link to donate to a foundation that will put money towards saving the Great Barrier Reef. Endangered Species International is a legitimate organization that uses the donations they receive wisely. Imagine the possibilities is everyone gave just a couple dollars!

10. Tweet about it. Post about it. Snap about it.

Spread the word about the Great Barrier Reef's demise. Get people to care. Make sure everyone remembers that coral reefs are still here, and they are in desperate need of our help.

11. Don't spread the idea that the reef is a hopeless case!

Above all, do not believe this is a hopeless case. Coral reefs can still be saved. Keep the hope!

The Great Barrier Reef is not dead yet. We still have time. Work on making your own contributions to save the coral reefs. It would be a shame to believe the reef is dead, realize it is still alive, and then do nothing. Do something. Make an effort to change the course of our planet. Do not let the Great Barrier Reef go without putting up a fight.

Cover Image Credit: Desmog

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4 Tips On How To Be A Plastic-Free College Student

The United Nations estimate that the world's oceans contain more than 8 million tons of plastic, so it's up to all of us to make a difference.


We all may love the ease of throwing away our plastic utensils and water bottles, but marine life does not. With sea turtles and other animals choking on the plastic we discard every day, it's time to make these simple changes to better our planet.

1. Start using metal silverware


In 2015, nearly 2 billion plastic utensils were purchased and approximately half were sent to landfills. But where do these 1 billion plastic forks, spoons, and knives go from there? To put it simply, straight to the oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water that are home to billions of different aquatic species.

2. Stop buying plastic water bottles


Not only do 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year, but the process of bottling water releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. If these statistics alone aren't enough to make you want to never bring a plastic water bottle to your soccer game again, then the financial aspect might. With a 24 pack of Poland Springs water bottles costing slightly less than $5, you can pay that price just one time by investing in a reusable bottle.

3. Use washable plates


Eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before your 1:30 p.m. class? Put that styrofoam plate down and invest in some washable plates. That styrofoam plate you used once will sit in landfills for millions of years, as it is not biodegradable.

4. Avoid plastic toothbrushes


With the average person throwing away their toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, it is not surprising that 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes are added to landfills each year. Instead, invest in environmentally friendly toothbrushes such as the Bamboo Toothbrush, with BPA-free nylon bristles.

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