Straw Wars

Plastiki sail boatBy Mark Kneubuhl –

(April 30, 2012)  Without dropping any names, the World’s most popular fast food chain (starts with a big yellow M), uses 60 million straws a day. In a year that’s nearly 27-billion, which connected end-to-end, would wrap around the earth 160 times.

According to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, plastic straws cannot be recycled and were first used and quickly replaced the paper variety in the 1960’s as the “hip” alternative.

Environmentalist David de Rothschild, who sailed from San Francisco to Australia on a catamaran made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles, said of plastic straws, “basically, they suck!”

The construction of the sailboat, christened “The Plastiki” and the voyage down under was part of a successful anti-plastics campaign.  As a continuation of that effort, de Rothschild has recently started a new website, Strawwars.org, with the single purpose of stopping the use of plastic straws.

Straw Wars has invited all bars and restaurants to join by getting rid of straws completely or provide a straw only when requested by a customer.

Why? “Because billions of straws are discarded every year; filtering into landfill and littering the oceans. This is extremely detrimental to the environment, as plastics can’t biodegrade, they last indefinitely – breaking down into smaller pieces, feeding into the food chain and potentially ending up on our dinner plates,” states the website.

The site further states that Soho, London is the first community to support Straw Wars. “Soho is leading the way in creating a better and more sustainable urban living environment by taking responsibility for our planet.”

But Soho isn’t the only place declaring war on straws. In response this tourism eye-sore, Miami Beach commissioners amended a litter ordinance last week to ban plastic straws from the beach.  Hotels could face fines ranging from $50 to $500, which are the same as existing fines for littering. Enforcement might begin in the upcoming weeks after city officials have reached out to hoteliers.

Miami Beach Commissioner Jorge Exposito said, “It is a huge burden on our ecological systems. So, people may say this is sort of silly, ‘Big deal, you’re banning straws.’ But at the end of the day, we’re taking a step in the right direction to leave a better world for our children. To make sure our environment, our ecology, is better off for it.”

Plastic waste makes up between 60 to 80% of total marine debris.  Also, scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in, or ingest plastic pollution.

“If we can’t get rid of straws, then we really are in trouble as a species,” concluded de Rothschild.

(Editor’s note: For families and individuals paper straws are still available in most grocery stores.)

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Posted by at April 30, 2012
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