Straws, Sippy Cups and Solutions to Save the Sea

4 min readJun 24, 2019

By Michele the Trainer

Image by Geraldine Dukes from Pixabay

Like you, I love the ocean and all the critters that call it home.

I also like straws. Many adults use them with children or the elderly. Many people don’t use them at all.

I know, I know adults don’t need straws, but yes some of us like them.

While plastic straw pollution is terrible, are straws the root of all ocean horrors?

With the straw ban, I’ve seen a few things:

· Angry straw lovers

· People using bamboo or stainless straws (my preferred option)

· Crappy paper straws

· Innovative better biodegradable straws

· Sippy cup lids as an option

· Still a ton of trash not in the bin, including all sorts of plastic shapes

· Is this the root of the problem?

Angry straw lovers are just gonna hate. They can easily take some responsibility for change, progress and bring along their own re-usable straw. If you can buy a toothbrush, then you can buy a stainless or bamboo straw. (Yes this illuminates the fact that toothbrushes use much more plastic than straws and are likely to also end up in the ocean). They take little more room in your bag than a pen or pencil. No biggie. Hopefully this population is also still brushing their teeth.

Crappy paper straws SUCK. Poor quality options fuel the haters. I wrote to Whole Foods about their paper straws, and they did respond. I love that they rolled out a paper straw option quickly, but the quality of the brand they used (on the west coast) was a fail. Amazon has better paper options that are likely wax coated. They did respond and hopefully they will upgrade their biodegradable straw options.

The bummer of the ban. One of my favorite vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, Pasadena’s Green Earth Vegan, was using well researched biodegradable straws that were functionally perfect. Then the city banned all (most) straws, but that ban does not include take-out food or fast food or cafes.

While you’re pondering this, if you’re in LA get a signature Groovy Green smoothie-to-go from Green Earth Vegan and ask them for a biodegradeable straw so you can experience an innovative option.

Image by John Gibson from Pixabay

Choosing a reusable, recyclable or biodegradable option is preferred, rather than just changing the shape of the plastic:

With café’s plastic use on the horizon, Starbucks is considering sippy cup lids as alternatives to their giant green straws, but if you look at these lids, they:

· Might not be recyclable? These lids have no marking that I’ve seen indicating they can be recycled (ask for one and check it out)

· They use a ton more plastic than a straw

· These lids need that extra plastic, so they have structural integrity

Look around your town and almost anywhere in the world you can easily see a shit-ton of plastic trash (and other trash) everywhere, including some of that “iconic” green plastic trash. It’s not just about plastic or straws, it’s about responsibility and corralling even our personal pollution to the bins.

Is this the root of the problem? Yes and no. While plastic is a problem, fishing is also a problem. Bycatch is a problem.

Let’s stop eating the ocean to save the ocean. This is the elephant in the room. Any that thrive on donations often propose palatable easy cute solutions like upgrading light bulbs to save energy and using paper straws (which some people still have a tantrum about) to save the ocean. It’s not popular to suggest that we eat more organic plant food. We should stop killing the ocean to stop killing the ocean. Stop eating the ocean, to save the ocean.

Fishing and harvesting the ocean is killing way more than we are eating.

Bycatch is the collateral damage of fishing. It’s all the other animals that get killed in nets, gillnets and more mass killing equipment.

The saddest current example is of bycatch is the beautiful but critically endangered Vaquita, which is being literally wiped out right now by illegal gillnets and shrimping gillnets.

If we want to save the ocean, we should stop eating fish and seafood. Fishing gear, nets and monofilament line trash is all over the ocean and are massive gigantic plastic hazards. None of those nets are “recyclable”, and fishing waste is very dangerous to remove from the water. Humans can also become entangled in fishing trash. Monofilment, which is the material fishing nets and fishing lines are made of, do not break down until maybe after 600 years (has anyone really been around to time that?)

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

This monfilament waste also literally flies around to pollute and strangle more wildlife such as birds. Monofilament is commonly found also in bird nests, such as bald eagles. Often birds bring the material back to their nests with hooks still attached, and the hazards increase.

Straws are a problem, but a tiny part of the problem.

You decide what really sucks.

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