Skip the Straw

If you dine out with me, you can reasonably expect me to do the following:

  1.  insist on paying for the bill with my card
  2. preemptively ask the waiter/waitress not to include straws with our beverages

I do #1 because every purchase made on my card racks up bonus mileage that I can use toward free plane tickets (s/o to chase sapphire rewards). My dining mates can always Venmo me the cost of their portion of the meal or pay me in cash. My motivation behind #2 however, is the fact that straws (and plastic utensils) are not recyclable and, more often than not, end up in the ocean or in landfills.

Americans use 500 million straws every day. At least, that's the statistic that activists cite about straw use. The Los Angeles Times editorial board remarks that this estimate seems credible considering how many sodas, iced coffees, bobas, and other drinks are ordered every day, most of which come with a single-use straw. "Lately, even some sit-down restaurants have taken to serving the obligatory glass of water with a straw already in place, as if humans haven't been expertly consuming liquid from containers using only their lips for a millennia." When was the last time you had an iced coffee or boba that came with a straw? (within the past three days, i'm guessing).

It's common knowledge that plastic bags floating around in the ocean can be mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles looking for food. What's less known is that puny straws can wreak havoc on sea life as well. In August 2015, a group of researchers studying mating Olive Ridley sea turtles off the coast of Costa Rica picked up a male and extracted a 4 in. long plastic straw from its left nostril, initially thinking it was a barnacle plugging up his nose. Warning: graphic video.

The Lonely Whale organization has created a campaign, Strawless Ocean, to urge consumers to stop the use of single-use plastic straws. I am all for it. But fret not, you don't have to give up your Starbucks and boba habit just yet. One way to ameliorate your plastic waste is to use reusable straws. I've purchased fancy rose-gold stainless steel straws for everyday use and keep extra-wide smoothie straws in my bag for sipping boba. Paper straws and silicone straws work, too. (no affiliate links)

Plastic may outweigh fish in our oceans by 2050

Footage courtesy of National Geographic

If you're ready to accept the challenge, pledge to stop your use of single-use plastic straws today. #StopSucking


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES (no affiliate links)

online shopping for reusable bags, drinkware, kitchenware, & cleaning supplies | Reuse It

9 easy ways you can help save our oceans from plastic pollution | Buzzworthy

specialized waste bins for chip bag/granola bar wrappers, pens & markers, k-cups, and more | Terracycle

P.S. Other non-recyclables that you should reconsider before you buy/use: plastic utensils and products that contain exfoliating microbeads (e.g. body washes and facial cleansers)

P.P.S. Shoutout to California legislation for moving to pass a bill that would make it illegal for dine-in restaurants to automatically provide straws without customers' prompting. Restaurants in Davis have already adopted a similar "Straws Upon Request" ordinance.