Plastic straws are bad for the planet — they’re not recyclable, they end up in our world’s oceans and they kill our vulnerable marine life. An estimated 71% of seabirds and a futher 30% of turtles found onshore have traces of plastic in their stomachs. More than half of the world's wildlife who eat plastic debris, including whales and dolphins, will die after ingesting the product. It sits in the gut, is not digestible, and slowly kills our iconic species.
In research from the Univeristy of Melbourne, Professor Andrew Holmes estimates that the average person touches something plastic every ten minutes. Plastic is used in everything from the keyboard you type on to the pen you write with. It's in your contact lenses and glasses. It makes up the Teflon in your frying pan and there's traces of plastic in your phone, your clothing, your TV screen and even in your car. Around 8 million tonnes of it found its way into the ocean in 2010, and those numbers are only increasing.
Because it's designed to be durable, plastic takes a very long time to degrade (if at all), which means plastic in our oceans can live on for generations; and with more than 500 million straws in rotation every day in the United States alone, the time to act on plastic has never been greater.
So when Lonely Whale and Adrian Grenier nominated me to ditch plastic for a #strawlessocean, I knew I had to take their pledge.
The first few steps were easy. I sprawled "bring your reusable cup with you today!" on my bedroom blackboard and gave myself points each time I remembered it. I only frequented cafes that offered discounts for bringing your own reuseable mug (like Starbucks), and if I forgot my mug, I'd duck into a store and purchase myself a new cup to replace it.
Next came refusing straws altogether. Whether it was at restaurants, bars, or even the cinemas, I opted out of plastic straws in my beverages. Glass cups were easy, but movie beverages and take away cups with plastic lids were more challenging, so I opted out of plastic lids too. And if I really needed a straw, there was always the option of a reusable one, like the stainless steel straws from Biome.
The pledge got me thinking about other ways I could reduce my plastic consumption, and within a few weeks, I'd opted for cotton and linen totes to replace plastic grocery bags and I began upcycling jars and plastic tupperware around my home (they make great spice jars!).
Before I knew it, I was bringing glass containers to put loose groceries in, carrying it all back to my car with linen totes and refusing plastic lids and straws everywhere I went.
With plastic waste becoming a pandemic, it's important to rethink our relationship with it, and to actively reduce our use of plastic if and where we can. I'm so honoured to be joining celebrities like Ellen Pompeo, Paul Nicklen, Chris Burkard and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau in ditching plastic with Lonely Whale and strawlessocean.org.
I nominate you to take the pledge and to encourage your friends to do the same!
You can head to the Strawless Ocean website to take your pledge and invite friends to join you.