Caribbean countries depend more on coastal and marine environments than any other region on Earth. Its coral reefs, beaches, and fisheries serve as an economic engine. The livelihood of so many of us depends on it, yet we seldom make a conscious effort to take care of it. The scale of plastic pollution in our oceans is truly staggering. An estimated 8 to 11 million tons of plastic enters the oceans every year — the equivalent of emptying a garbage truck filled with plastic into the oceans every minute!
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make a difference. Globally, we need to work on reversing the effects of the last 30 years of plastic pollution, as well as ensuring that we do better for our oceans in the future. Every individual or business has to decide where to start. It’s actually quite easy to make a switch, and every effort counts.
For example, straws might seem like a trivial place to begin — but they are available just about everywhere a drink is sold. The US alone uses 500 million straws each day. The sad truth is that none of them can be recycled because they’re typically made from single-use plastic and are so flimsy that they can’t endure the recycling process. Most of these straws end up in the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes where they clog shorelines and endanger wildlife. They can easily end up being mistaken for food by marine life, which, when swallowed, can cause injury or even death.
About Polylactic Acid Plastics
There has been a discussion around Polylactic Acid Plastics (PLA), made from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane, as an alternative source. Even though they are produced in a way that provides less pollution to the environment, they are not a viable option in countries, such as Belize and other Caribbean islands, where composting facilities do not exist. PLA Plastics do biodegrade, however, they do so very slowly, taking about 100 years.
As a culture, we have become accustomed to using a straw, but the good news is, there’s no need to give it up, you just have to make a conscious effort to use an appropriate alternative.
Let’s do our part to save our reefs!
4 ALTERNATIVES TO USING PLASTIC STRAWS
1. Bamboo Straws – Reusable for years and is biodegradable.
2. Metal Straws – Very durable, and a great personal option – and most come with a carrying case so you can always have it on the go.
3. Paper Straws – For a disposable straw, paper is your best bet and an excellent alternative for businesses which need to offer straws. An even better way, is to only offer straws in your establishment upon request!
4. Reusable Cups with built-in straws – A trendy and fashionable alternative for both hot and cold beverages and especially useful at home, travel and work.
Contact Plastic Free Reefs to get your paper straws!
Written by Tanya McNab