Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

53235
girl sipping drink

When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Relationships

Hittin' the Road Playlist

With the end of August approaching more quickly than many of us would like, the preparation for school is happening in more ways than just one.

516
http://cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2014/08/11/635433794713320635180099351_road%20trip%20playlist.jpg

The car is all packed. The money you saved (and didn't spend online) from your summer internship is secured quietly in your bank account. The immediate reunion with your long-distance college friends is set. The real question on everyone's minds is: do you have the perfect melody to jam to as you journey back to school? 

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

20 Quotes That Will Make You Smile Today

Everyone could use more self-care and without the judgement...

2038
20 Quotes That Will Make You Smile Today

Welcome to a new day and a new opportunity to be our best selves. Here's a list of 20 quotes about self-care, self-love, positivity, and finding inspiration. Carry these quotes with you throughout your day for positive upliftment!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

10 Small Reasons To Smile​

There's always a reason to be happy.

2165
10 Small Reasons To Smile​

It doesn't cost a thing - so smile.

Keep Reading... Show less
11 Songs That Will Hit You In The Feels, No Doubt About It

One of my favorite things to do when it comes to music is making different playlists on Spotify. I find it so fun to go back to old songs, find new ones, and categorize them into my different playlists. We all have that one playlist that we resort to when we are really feeling some type of way — also known as a "feels" playlist. If you have one of these playlists or feel ~inspired~ to make one, here are 11 songs that are a must to add.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

To My Fellow Girls With Resting B**** Face

A letter to my friends with RBF about understanding your own face and helping others deal with it.

3718
Jupe du Jour

To the girl with resting b**** face:

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments