Chat with the Chief: The straw that broke the ocean’s back

If you’ve been on social media or had a conversation with anyone over the past few months, then you’ve probably heard about the controversy behind plastic straws. The debate surrounds the fact that plastic straws contribute to the massive amounts of trash in
our oceans.

According to National Geographic, Americans use about 500 million straws every day, many of which enter the ocean and harm marine wildlife. This sparked a movement to limit straw use. Many establishments stopped providing straws or only made them available upon

Some cities have even proposed plastic straw bans, such as New York City, Seattle and Malibu, according to USA Today. In theory, this is a good idea. However, as the issue becomes more prominent in the news and on social media, it has come to my attention that banning straws can be harmful to some. For instance, some people with disabilities rely on straws daily, whether it is because of a physical disability or they need the routine of using a straw. If certain bars and restaurants stop carrying straws altogether, people who need straws are more limited as to where they can go.

Furthermore, some people are actively focused on limiting their straw use, which is great. However, they aren’t necessarily limiting their plastic use elsewhere. It helps to stop using straws, but if people are still leaving trash on the beach and throwing away thousands of plastic grocery bags every day, the planet is still in danger.

I am all for limiting straw use. I’m doing my best to avoid straws when possible and I know many others who are doing the same. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to remove straws altogether from restaurants, as there are people who need them. The best course of action is to use straws less frequently or entirely if you do not need to use them. But why stop there? So many items that are common in our lives contribute to the tons of trash polluting the ocean, so we should be mindful of how much trash we produce daily and where that trash goes.
There’s so much more we can do to save the planet. Let’s not stop at straws.