Earth Day Call to Arms: Skip the Straw

The United Kingdom is proposing a ban on disposable plastic straws.

With Earth Day coming up this Sunday, advocates are asking everyone to follow suit and skip the straw.

Straws and stirrers are among the top 10 items found in coastal cleanups worldwide, according to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, which has been conducting annual trash pickups for more than 30 years.

The group says the ocean is littered with 150 million metric tons of plastic trash, clogging coastlines, ensnaring wildlife and even littering land far from any human settlement.

And each year, another 8 million tons wash in, according to a recent study.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton ear buds.

May called on other Commonwealth nations to do the same.

Skipping the straw will not solve the problem on its own, acknowledges Nick Mallos, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program.

“But they are a tangible action that all of us as individuals can take that do add up,” he said.

“It’s also about this mind shift that takes place when you start thinking about, ‘Oh, I don’t need a straw.’” Mallos added. “It cascades into other aspects of your consumer decision-making. Maybe after (skipping) the straw becomes habit, you think about the next step you might be able to take to reduce your waste footprint.”

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