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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

Whether the video was posted on a family member’s Facebook wall, retweeted to a Twitter timeline, or posted on an “eco-friendly” page, everybody has seen the disheartening video of a straw being pulled out of a poor sea turtle’s nose. The video brought out many emotions from the public, but mainly it brought up the question of how did that straw end up in that sea turtle’s nose. Although there is still no real answer as to how the straw ended up in the turtle’s nose, there are theories on how the straw ended up in the ocean to begin with.

Even though plastic is recyclable, most plastic straws are too light and don’t end up making it through the machine that sorts out the recyclable items (the mechanical recycling sorter). Since they are so small, they end up falling through the crevices of these machines and end up falling and contaminating other groups of recyclable items. Sometimes these plastic straws are even mistaken as garbage! This isn’t the only reason straws end up misplaced, humans help with the misplacing too of course! Straws are sometimes left on the coast of beaches by accident, they can be left on purpose as liter, be blown out of a garbage can when the can is over capacity, or even be thrown out from boats and other water vehicles. Not to mention that all gutters and storm drains lead into the ocean. It’s safe to say that no matter what is done, some form of plastic will eventually end up in the ocean.

Once the plastic is in the ocean, the plastic is broken down by the ocean into small pieces called “microplastics”. These microplastics are even worse for marine life because they make it easier for fish and other marine animals to ingest this plastic. But don’t be fooled, just because the ocean can break down the plastic bottles and straws doesn’t mean that it’ll completely dissolve into nothing in a couple months. A plastic bottle takes 450 years to breakdown completely, although a plastic straw is not as big as a plastic bottle, that time frame should give an accurate time frame as to how long it’d take to dissolve.

If a life without straws sounds impossible, fear not, there is an eco-friendly version of straws that’ll help you slowly but surely save the oceans and the life inside them. There are compostable plastic straws, but these straws however have the same effect on oceans as plastic straws because they’re meant to break down in a compost facility; that should be kept in mind if buying a compost straw. There are other options like going completely straw-less, paper straws that are marine-degradable, glass straws, steel and silicone straws, bamboo straws, and metal straws. Thankfully, there are a plethora of options to choose from in hopes of making our oceans plastic free, linked down below are some of the options mentioned above.






Angely is a Biology major on a Pre-Med track, she is hoping to be either a Neurologist or Oncologist in the future. She has a high interest in the Environmental Sciences and hopes to get her Master's degree and Ph.D in Environmental Sciences in order to do research on coral reefs. She is a volunteer at Nicklaus Children's Hospital and Co-Fundraising chair for Tri Beta.