Straws and our Great Lakes

Plastic Straws in the Great lakes

Iced coffee, smoothies, juices and cocktails. I bet you’ve never thought twice about how many straws you actually use in one day. In North America, we throw away over 500 million plastic straws per day, it’s no wonder straws are polluting our Great Lakes and Oceans. That’s enough straws to circle the Earth twice!  Across the world, plastic straws account for 13 million tonnes of waste every year. Plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose. At the rate we’re going, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We need to take action now.

How do they end up in our oceans?

Watersheds drain water into a larger body of water. Small objects, like straws, get picked up by the movement of water, and make their way into creeks, rivers and wetlands, eventually making their way into the Great Lakes and then the Ocean. This can harm wildlife and ecosystems.

Did you know that you can purchase a reusable straw? Just like reusable bags and cutlery, there are different reusable straw options out there – made out of glass, stainless steel or bamboo. While dining out, you can even ask your server to not bring you a straw. If you must use a disposable straw, dispose of it responsibly to keep harmful pollutants out of our waterways. Always recycle where possible.

What can you do?

  • Reduce waste and pollution by purchasing a reusable straw.
  • Refuse a plastic straw when buying food.
  • Start a conversation with local restaurant’s and ask them to limit straw use.
  • Pledge to #stopsucking and take action for a strawless ocean.

Let’s work together to help our waterways. A small investment or simple request can have a huge impact on our environment.  Be inspired by nature to make a change.

Comments (7)

  1. Can straws be recycled with our plastic bags in the blue bin? If not, how can I recycle the straws I already have? I promise not to buy/use any more!

  2. There is a project in Toronto called The Last Straw that encourages bars and restaurants in Toronto to not serve straws in drinks on April 21st. Hopefully this will go over well with the guests, and in the near future many restaurants and bars will only serve straw-free drinks. Here is the website with information on this initative They also have an instagram page.

  3. Hey everyone!

    Speaking as both someone who has a degree in conservation biology and a disabled person, I just want to offer a reminder that for some people with disabilities who cannot hold a cup or glass, using a straw allows people to drink beverages independently. I definitely agree about the amount of plastic in the oceans — the garbage gyre in the Pacific is multiple times the size of Texas — but asking that restaurants simply not have straws available makes communities less accessible.

    I absolutely agree that if you don’t need a straw, don’t take one and don’t ask for one, but a better approach would be to have restaurants to train servers to ask “Does anyone need a straw?” before handing them out. This means that straws will still be available to disabled people who need them but doesn’t put the onus on them to ‘be that person’ who asks for a straw.

    Again, I totally agree with the need to cut down on plastics — use of fossil fuels in production, habitat loss from using land as waste disposal sites, and ingestion of plastics by wildlife are all hazards — but if any restaurant people are reading this, I do hope that my thoughts will be considered so we can have both a clean and accessible planet! 😉

  4. Well said Wolfie – my disabled son needs straws so he can drink independently! At home we can switch to permanent straws, but it’s nice that some restaurants like A&W have switched to biodegradable paper straws… still providing straws where needed, but avoiding the plastic straw dilemma.

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