Imagine going on a day trip to the beach or on a tropical vacation. Except, in both cases, you are met with the sight of nothing. We have all been in that situation at the beach when some “thing” brushes against or touches our foot, and we bolt out of the water and run for our lives, wishing that those creatures would just stay away from “our” area. At the same time, we would never wish them away entirely, and we soon begin to realize we are invading THEIR space and that we must do our part to protect our getaway space and their home for the benefit of both parties in the long run.
If you were to go to Starbucks and order an iced coffee without a straw, would you actually be making a difference? The answer is yes and no. Every effort made to protect our oceans helps, but the global scale of straw waste found in our vast oceans is roughly just 0.03%. While this may not seem significant at all, when those few straws end up causing death to helpless sea animals, our moral compasses can’t help but tell us that we must do better.
You might be thinking, even if we succeed at eliminating the straw issue, there are so many other problems that need equal attention. And the truth is, while going “strawless” does have its benefits, the majority of our eight million metric TONS of plastic debris comes from fishing nets. An estimated 46 percent of the global pollution in our oceans comes from one simple product – plastic. Plastic is non-biodegradable, so perhaps the movement for limiting all plastic items is our saving grace. This includes bags, plastic six-pack rings, plastic water bottles, and dozens of other everyday items that become entangled with marine life. Most importantly, a limit on the use and disposal of plastic fishing nets and the other commonly-used tools in that industry has to be enforced.
Different people have different ideas and through social media and other platforms, have been trying to force-feed a number of them to us. While it may seem like there is a new initiative every week, I think it’s time we commit to a solution and follow through with it. There are many great ideas out there, but sometimes we get lost and overwhelmed trying to figure out which ones to participate in. However, the important thing for all of us to remember is that we can make a difference. Every effort adds up, and we all need to commit to doing something to help our sea friends. Start small, and maybe next time, order your iced coffee in a reusable cup!