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Managing Editor  | July 2017

Movement to remove plastic straws from drinks is gaining momentum


There has been growing momentum in the movement to remove plastic straws from drinks at restaurants, according to a recent article by the Washington Post, and a number of conservation groups have organized around the topic with Walt Disney World and the Smithsonian Institute among the high-profile organizations that have banned straws at their concessions.

 

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Conservation groups are working hard to get restaurants to "Be Straw Free."
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

The movement has grown exponentially since a YouTube video of a straw being removed from a sea turtle’s nose went viral in 2015. (See the graphic video at the end of the story.) The video has more than 11 million views and drawn outrage from the public.

 

Fifteen-year-old Milo Cress has been one of the biggest proponents of this movement, starting from the age of 9 when he launched the “Be Straw Free” campaign in his hometown of Burlington, Vt.

 

Why target straws?

 

According to The Post, “Straws are among the most common plastic items volunteers clean from beaches, along with bottles, bags and cups, conservationists say. Americans use half a billion straws every day, at least according to an estimate by Be Straw Free, based on information from straw manufacturers. That many straws could wrap around the Earth 2-1/2 times.

 

The article added, “The slightest wind lifts plastic straws from dinner tables, picnic blankets and trash dumps, depositing them far and wide, including in rivers and oceans, where animals often mistake them for food.”

 

According to an estimate from The Plastic Pollution Coalition, there are more than 1,800 organizations worldwide (from restaurants to institutions to schools) that have either banned straws or implemented straws-upon-request policies.

 

“Finally in the 1960s, restaurants offered a new invention: a disposable plastic straw,” the article continued. “It’s a convenience people seem to use arbitrarily. Millions drink soda with a straw, but hardly any suck beer through one. Hot-coffee drinkers gulp directly from cups but stick straws in iced coffee. Bar hoppers drink highballs from a glass, but mixed cocktails come with a straw.”

 

As the movement continues to spread, a number of groups are working together to spread the message about straws and their impact.

 

Watch the viral video of a straw being removed from a sea turtle below (warning, graphic content):

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