'Stop Sucking': Say Goodbye to Plastic Straws — Then Take The Next Step

‘Stop Sucking’: Say Goodbye to Plastic Straws — Then Take The Next Step

  • Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jessica Mino, resource management coordinator for the Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources.

You most likely have heard of the recent campaign to move away from plastic straws, a common single-use plastic.

People are bringing re-usable straws or refusing the straw all together. Restaurants are supporting this effort by asking if people would like a straw rather than just delivering one in every drink or by providing paper straws instead of the plastic versions.

Signs are circulating with phrases like “The Last Straw” and “Stop Sucking.”

This important environmental movement has people thinking about the amount of plastic they use and where it ends up.

This is a great start! But just that — a start. We still have a tremendous amount of plastic, particularly single-use plastic, in our lives.

So far, humans have created more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste. Keep in mind, this is just since plastic production took off around 1950 (National Geographic).

This plastic waste does not degrade, but remains in landfills and pollutes our environment. Burning it is not a solution either, as noxious chemicals are released creating a significant public health risk.

As National Geographic explained, “We depend on plastic. Now we’re drowning in it.”

Refuse Single-Use Plastics

Plastic waste has become a huge problem, impacting human health, wildlife health and contributing to our carbon footprint.

Our previous article on Plastic Pollution illuminates how plastic is impacting our local waterways and the Great Lakes – then making its way up the food chain in the fish that we consume.

What You Can Do

So let’s take it on step-by-step, just as we have done by starting with straws.

(1) Move toward re-usable.

Just like we did for straws – now do the same for coffee mugs, water bottles, and shopping bags! The options are almost endless.

And try thinking beyond the most publicized items, too. Where do you use the most single-use plastics? Maybe you wrap your daily lunch in Ziploc bags or use plastic utensils that you throw away each day.

Or perhaps you get take-out that is shuffled into your hands in a plastic container (which is NOT recyclable, by the way).

(2) Shop wisely.

If it is made out of plastic, think twice! Is there another alternative you could buy instead?

This does not just apply to items you will be keeping for a while, but also to the packaging that items come in.

Choose things without wrapping or packaged in paper or glass instead. Doing this will reduce your overall plastic consumption and influences companies to be more considerate about their plastic use.

(3) Talk to others.

Share your great new way of reducing your plastic consumption with your friends, family, and co-workers. Speak to your local, state, and federal leaders to let them know you care about reducing single-use plastics!

With your help, we can reduce our use of plastics just as we have done with plastic straws.