• Cheri Newcomb

Do You Suck?

Last September, reports about the perils of plastic straws hit the news media with a movement of why we should all gravitate away for our current plastic straw habits. The 500 Million Straws (in the USA alone) quote is repeated in almost every news report with different suggestions and solutions of how we are going to go about ridding our environment of the mounting plastic that accumulates minute by minute. Straw bans are scrutinized and restaurants are eager to start leading the way as we continue to delve into this issue in 2017.

Adrian Grenier and Lonely Whale are taking social media by storm with challenges for other big name celebrities to publicly announce that they are willing to stop sucking! As these individual challenges continue to circulate through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, attention has focused on the senseless continuation of so many people that use and discard several plastic straws a day - (one in every drink). Hashtag #stopsucking will take you to some popular accounts of folks that have very large communities of social media followers - and they are publicly announcing that they do indeed accept this challenge to quit using plastic straws!

Bars and restaurants in cities from Santa Monica to Toronto are banning straws or adopting "straws on request" policies. Patrons are leaving behind messages to these establishments that encourage these policies. You can download your own cards for this purpose at The Last Plastic Straw (.org)

Breaking news this summer from Costa Rica announced that plans are in action to make this area completely single use plastic free by the year 2021. Reports from vacationers and visitors declare that you cannot walk these lovely beaches more that a few feet without seeing evidence of a changing landscape that is quickly transforming into plastic particles within the sand. The new program will make Costa Rica the first country to take this type of action.

Straws Film, the documentary about straws, continues to make rounds at film festivals and educational systems, opening the eyes of audiences that never gave plastic straws much of a thought before seeing the interview with the team that pulled a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose. Their released video quickly went viral and the impact of viewers rethinking their daily habits has produced far-reaching results. Linda Booker's film continues to receive attention as showings reach past our USA borders. (Yes, plastic straws ARE a global issue!)

Plastic Free July continues to reach beyond the borders of Australia, where the campaign originated. The campaign currently reaches into 159 countries with concentrated plastic free pledges during the month of July each year. Ideas are shared among those who stop using plastic and how they are finding ways to eliminate all single use plastic in general. The tradition of Plastic Free July now continues throughout the year. A new spinoff of these traditions is organizing as Strawless September, Strawless in September, and Straw Free September. These campaigns promise to be just as inspiring, resulting with more solution sharing across several social media channels.

It is reported that 90% of our bird population now has ingested pieces of plastic and that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans! It is not surprising that the momentum is increasing to bring awareness into public circles. Change is imminent and we can no longer afford to look the other way as we continue to produce, consume, and toss aside this toxic material that cannot break down or return to Earth's natural resources.

Meanwhile, Google searches expand for the perfect, reusable straw with customers deciding between glass, metal, bamboo, and silicone for a straw that can be reused, washed and packed, and used again. Searches include those looking for a way to pack their straw and take it with them when they go about their daily business. Reusable straw lovers claim that it is easy to refuse plastic straws when you have a straw with you that you prefer over the plastic one that is offered.

The growing number of Zero Waste Facebook Groups are engaging in intense conversations that share solutions and ways to avoid items made of plastic. The Best Straw, a new Facebook group, is actively accepting members to join and share in discussions that revolve around the topic of reusable straws of all types.

Adding to the Strawless Oceans and Straw Free September campaigns is the recent "Strawless in Seattle" with Seattle being the first city committed to being straw free for the entire month of September! Seattle is the first city to take on this type of action with major advertisements and public events participating on a large scale - and other cities are paying close attention.

While lobbyists and policy makers are scratching their heads trying to find ways to enforce laws and implement bans to reduce plastic waste on a planet that can virtually hold no more, we can each take a tip from the Michael Jackson song, "Man {person} in the Mirror" and ask that reflection that looks back, "Do you suck"?

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