Featured Image Credit: forcechange.com
Straws. You never really think about them, but they are always a useful piece of plastic to have around. You use them to drink out of your Starbucks cups, your milkshakes, and your to-go drink from any restaurant. Yes, they’re everywhere and they’re so useful! But, did you ever think that they are harming the Charleston environment? That’s right, the precious little tube that you’re probably drinking out of right now is actually hurting Charleston.
During a Folly Beach clean up day in May, the Charleston Surfrider Foundation picked up 300 straws in just one hour. “Because straws can’t be recycled in Charleston County, they’re just going into the ocean or landfills,” says Kate Dittloff, Surfrider Charleston Chapter Chair. “We’ve found that on average we use 1.6 straws per person per day. That’s 634,000 straws used in Charleston County alone. That’s an incredible number.”
Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe it. The amount of damage those little tubes can cause is astonishing. National Geographic reported back in April that, “their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish.”
This became evident when the video of researchers struggling to get a straw out of a turtle’s nose went viral. (Click here to see the video.) Even though these small cylinders only make up just a small fraction of the pollution in the ocean, the damage they cause is much greater.
Effective June 20th, Dittloff along with the Charleston Restaurant Association, Charleston Bartender’s Guild, 5 Gyres Institute, and Lonely Whale Foundation, kicks off the “Strawless Summer Challenge.” By launching this campaign, they hope that it will raise awareness about how plastic straws hurt the environment, not just in beautiful Charleston, but also around the world. “We’re essentially telling people to stop sucking,” Dittloff says.
This is definitely going to be a huge challenge for the Charleston community. Charleston runs on cocktails, and what do most cocktails include… a straw! But, in order to keep Charleston beautiful, clean and up to par with expectations of tourists, we have to eliminate them.
Megan Deschaine, the Charleston Chapter Vice President and Macintosh bartender says, “We live in a city that is wholly dependent on our natural ecosystem for the tourism industry and the natural industry. That means we have to be stewards of a healthy environment.”