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Why Saving the Turtles Involves More Than Just Metal Straws

We’ve all seen it across social media — teenage girls promoting the use of metals straws in an attempt to save sea turtles from consuming any small bits of plastic that float throughout the sea. However, there’s an even darker reality to it all. In America alone, 500 million plastic straws are used and disposed of daily, and according to researchers, roughly 8 million tons of plastic litter our oceans. Even recycling seems like a good idea in theory, but in actuality, only a small percentage of plastics are actually recycled. So yes, in a sense, metal straws are making a difference. But still, there is so much more we can do to protect our sea life.  

Invest in Reusable Bags

Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used annually. Tragically, many can be found circulating in marine environments. Single-use plastic bags having a striking resemblance to certain species of sea turtles’ prey, jellyfish. Reusable tote bags allow us to cut back on the number of plastic bags we have lying around the house — if enough people continue this sustainable process for years to come, the steady increase of plastic that is finding its way into our oceans, rivers and ponds will eventually decline.

Cut out Plastic

Taking part in a plastic-free lifestyle could save the environment in more ways than one, and it’s simpler than you’d think. By simply buying reusable water bottles and investing in water filters, the majority of plastic bottles in the sea wouldn’t be floating in a giant garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Using glass Tupperware instead of Ziploc bags is another effective way to cut out plastic waste.

Take Part in Beach Cleanups

If you’re lucky enough to live close to the beach, think about volunteering for a beach cleanup. By clearing out the trash that washes ashore, you help give sea turtles the opportunity to find suitable locations for their nests and get the chance to beautify your local beach. If you don’t live near the ocean, consider getting involved in riverside or lake cleanups. These benefit the freshwater wildlife, and you’re helping to preserve the ecosystem in your community.

Donate to Conservation Efforts 

If you are passionate about the cause but don’t have time to personally volunteer, try donating to marine life conservation projects. Even a few dollars to your charity of choice could make waves in helping their cause. It’s like doing the work, without getting a sunburn!

Voice Your Concerns to the Public

One thing VSCO girls did right was promoting the cause. Without voicing their opinions on the topic and helping it gain popularity, not that many people would be invested in saving the turtles. So many people have become involved in the effort that many local governments are banning the use of plastic straws in their towns and cities. By pushing the agenda further, more can be done as a country, rather than just in local areas.

Without focusing on the necessary precautions that need to be taken and with young kids only promoting metal straws for views, sea turtles could one day cease to exist outside of aquariums and television screens. By taking these steps, there might still be a fighting chance.

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Skyler Shepard is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida. She's a Print/Digital Journalism Major with an Asian Studies Minor. She's someone especially interested in foreign affairs and hopes to work overseas after graduation.
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