You Asked, We Answered: How Are Straws Affecting Our Ecosystem?

You’ve probably heard this before: plastic straws are detrimental to the health of our environment. Why is a narrow tube of plastic such an environmental hazard?

Published February 13, 2018

The use of disposable straws negatively effects both wildlife and the environment. Most straws today are made of a petroleum-based form of plastic; producing this plastic releases carbon dioxide into the air. These carbon emissions from plastic production contribute to climate change, which impacts ocean and human health.

Sea turtle release on the beach

Straws and other single-use plastic items often end up as plastic pollution in the ocean, transported either by wind or through creeks, streams, rivers and storm drains. Many animals are entangled in plastic, resulting in internal injuries or death.

Once at sea, plastic breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, and birds and sea creatures from plankton to whales confuse it for food and eat it. Those pieces of plastic trash make their way back to us, as many fishes that are consumed by animals or humans could have plastic inside them.    

So, what can you do to help? Simple: use less disposable plastic, including straws! If you prefer to sip through a straw, the best alternative is to opt for metal or glass options. Many reusable water bottles or cups have no straws at all, and you can ask dining establishments to hold the straw when you order a beverage. By making a habit of eliminating your use of plastic straws, you can do your part to help cut down on carbon emissions released into the environment and the plastic that pollutes our ocean.  

Learn more about thoughtful choices you can make to benefit our environment.

Previous Post

Featured Stories

Jellies in petri dish Welcome to the Jelly Jungle

Deep inside the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) building, the National Aquarium runs a little-known lab. Here we carry out the propagation of jellies, many of which later end up on exhibit in Jellies Invasion. Read on for a peek into the process!

Read the full story

Cold stunned turtle Cold Stunning: Where, How and Why?

Picture this: You’ve just spent a wonderful, late summer week on Cape Cod, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the sunshine with friends and family. As fall sets in, you know it’s time to head home. You get on the highway, but something strange happens … despite driving for hours, you end up back where you started. You feel sluggish, confused and exhausted. If you were a turtle, you just might be cold-stunned.

Read the full story

Related Stories

Baltimore Addresses Plastic Pollution

Published August 13, 2019

Reducing Single-Use Plastics to Support Our Ocean

Published June 08, 2019