Recently there has been a lot of talk pushing for laws against single use plastic straws. I believe this has stemmed from a high of level videos being shared on social media featuring animals (especially marine mammals) with straws in their bodies. People were appalled at the video of the of the sea turtle having the straw removed from his nostril, which has over 40 million views on YouTube alone. This movement seemed to start as a social media push to “skip the straw”. It seemed to quickly spiraled from just advocating to skip a straw when eating out at a restaurant to passing laws against restaurants offering straws.
This is where I run in to troubled waters. although I do believe that our planet would be a better place with less plastic pollution, and I personally try to skip the straw, I don’t believe placing a ban against straws is the correct move. Since the beginning of the ‘skip the straw’ movement there has push back from the community. This has primary came from the medical community arguing that some people simply need straws. This pro-straw argument is completely valid but tells me we did not do our job as conservation educators correctly.
‘Skip the Straw’ started around June 2018, right before the ‘Plastic Free July’ challenge. This is only a couple of months of anti-straw discussion, way too fast to move to a complete ban. People haven’t had a chance to be educated on the dangers of straws or shown alternatives. We all know that the general public doesn’t like change and loves convenience. I believe these two factors need to go into our educational talks. We need to give people the right information to make a decision on their own, therefore making the change easier because it was on their own terms. I believe, had we to more time in our education of why straws are dangerous and provided alternative solutions for all we would not be getting the push back we are seeing now.
Also, why are we pushing to make one use plastic straws illegal? In my opinion I believe plastic grocery bags are a bigger threat. When these bags float in the water they look very similar to jellyfish, a staple in sea turtle diets. This means, unlike the straw, sea turtles when seek out plastic bags and ingest them believing it is a food source. By moving too fast with a straw ban and angering people did we lose an opportunity to talk about plastic bags or anything else?
What do you think?