Straws May Not Be the Biggest Villain for Ocean Pollution

Okay so plastic straws didn’t even make the top five for the oceans’ plastic contaminants. Do you support the wave of banning single use plastic items? Scroll down to see the results.

There’s a new villain out there.

Eliminating or reducing the use of single use plastic items has become a new trend amongst companies, and companies who aren’t on board yet, are feeling the impact of the movement. A global protest movement has night life venues racing to replace their plastic straws with more sustainable alternatives, such as paper ones.  However, the reality of eliminating straws, which make up a staggering percentage of the world’s plastic products, will be nearly impossible.

The anti-straw movement started in 2015, after a video went viral showing a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. Campaigns grew in numbers, with activists citing studies and raising awareness for the growing ocean plastic problem that we are facing. This gave birth to the so called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – a floating, spiral of oceanic plastic, the size of France. The interest intensified further.

How accurate is the data? The campaigns, which are with good intentions, have led us to believe that single-use plastics, such as straws and coffee stirrers, have to do with ocean pollution, according to Bloomberg. Activists and the news media tell us that Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day, which sounds terrible. What they fail to mention, is that the data was conducted by a nine-year old.

Two Australian scientists have done their own research and claim that there are an estimated 8.3 billion plastics straws scattered on the global coastlines. If they were to be washed into the sea, it would only account for .03 percent of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year, according to their study.

So, if you want to join the ant-straw movement and feel conscientious for doing so, then go for it. But it may not create as big of a dent as you imagine it would.

If eliminating plastic straws won’t make much of a dent, what will? A recent survey conducted by scientists affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup group that are working on developing technologies to rescue ocean plastics may have the answer. By using surface samples and aerial surveys, they have determined that 46 percent of the plastic comes from fishing nets. In fact, fishing gear makes up a good chunk of the rest.

Should we create a movement to eliminate fishing gear? We bet many would not be on board for that one. The truth is, the problem is complicated, but steps have been taken. Marking commercial fishing gear and adding facilities to dispose of such gear, such as recycling has been agreed upon. There are penalties for dumping at sea, which can help with the problem.

However, not everyone is on board. In the developing world, the problem is much harder, as many won’t bring someone else’s net to a disposal point unless they are being paid to do so. All the anti-straw energy should go to finding efforts to combat this problem, according to Bloomberg. There have already been major efforts with stopping the three biggest companies from intentionally netting dolphins. In addition, the introduction of “dolphin safe” certification labels and tuna -related dolphin deaths have declined.

Furthermore, plastic straws didn’t even make the top five list for the oceans’ plastic contaminants. Do you support the wave of banning single use plastic items? 29% of people do support it because we must start somewhere, while 71% of people don’t and think its futile. Read the full story on Bloomberg here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

Okay so plastic straws didn’t even make the top five for the oceans’ plastic contaminants. Do you support the wave of banning single use plastic items?

29% Yes, start somewhere
71% No, it's futile
28% Yes, start somewhere
72% No, it's futile
30% Yes, start somewhere
70% No, it's futile

Yes, start somewhere

No, it’s futile

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