Last year whilst visiting a dive resort in Dauin in the Philippines, I ordered a mango shake (without sugar!), my favorite drink in the Philippines. The glass with the thick juice came but there was a no straw, much to my surprise!
Upon asking for a straw, the owner of the resort explained to me that they did not allow any plastic straws to be used in the resort, due to them being such a big part of the plastic pollution problem.
That was a bit of an eye opener and something I don’t think I ever will forget!
During the various underwater and beach clean ups I organized and/or participated in, I did indeed collect lots of straws and they were a big part of the trash that we found on each day. Sometimes somebody needs to put it in your face though, before you can add one and one together.
Here’s a sample of two separate searches at Manly beach in Sydney, where respectively 80 straws in 20 minutes during one snorkel dive were found and 319 straws during two snorkel dives were found
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Or check the Two Hands Project website on this link
As a result of this ‘lesson’ I learned in Dauin, I do notice how many straws are actually tossed away by people and can be found on beaches, underwater but also sitting next to the roadside.
I live in Thailand and like most other nearby countries in the South East Asian region, ecological awareness is sadly enough not one of the strongholds in the local societies.
The average person will just throw anything away that they bought in a convenience store (like 7-11 or one of its many local variations) after they finished consuming it, without batting an eyelid.
Besides being an avid and also a professional diver (I’m a recreational dive instructor), I’m also a long distance runner. After each run, which is about at least 3 or 4 times per week, I have developed a kind of a post run cool down routine. After I finished running, I go the front of our house on Koh Samui in Thailand, drenched in sweat most of the times, with an electrolyte drink in hand, and walk up and down the roadside of our house and pick up trash. Surprisingly, probably after cigarette butts, the most found trashed items are straws. It is mind bugging how many straws I find each time during my post run, cool down routine.
This just shows how much straws are a way too important part of this world’s trash heap, voluntarily ditched each day.
Back to the ocean, one of the horrible side effects straws can cause, have a look at this shortened video that shows how a straw is pulled out of a turtle’s nostril (there is a longer, 8 minute video available as well);
As you can see, straws can cause all kinds of serious problems, that you probably didn’t even consider up until you read this article or saw this video.
Hopefully this article about plastic straws; public enemy # 1?, with the pictures and the video is ‘your’ eye opener and you will pick up the straws that you will find discarded along your travels and I most certainly hope I can inspire you to stop using, let alone trash straws like you did before.
Are plastic straws; public enemy # 1? It sure is a worldwide problem and we can and need to change the habit of ditching straws. The best way is to start simple; start at home, like I do after my runs. Find something that works for you and from there you can expand to bigger projects!