It’s another month to raise awareness of plastic pollution and the problem with single-use plastics.
It’s No Straw November.
But unlike Plastic Free July, which asks you to avoid all single-use plastics, this month focuses on just one little piece of plastic: the straw.
So if avoiding all single-use plastic seems overwhelming, No Straw November might be a good way to start.
No Straw November is a new awareness month, started in 2017.
It all began when a Girl Scout, Shelby O’Neil decided to take action to help protect the oceans. First she created Jr. Ocean Guardians.
Then she started the No Straw November movement. And got official recognition from the California Coastal Commission.
Let’s help her make No Straw November a success!
Reusable straws? Nothing (mostly)!
But single-use straws? They create an incredible amount of plastic pollution!
You probably don’t think much about those straws you get at restaurants & take-out places. You’re not alone.
Really, it’s become pretty much just a habit to grab a straw at those self-serve drink machines. And when your server just brings you straws, well why would you refuse?
They’re so convenient!
But like all other plastics (including reusable plastic), they will never biodegrade. They turn into smaller & smaller pieces of plastic. But they don’t go away completely.
This is bad enough for reusable plastic items. Even if we use them for years, eventually they get thrown away. And then they stay around forever.
But for an item we use for just a few minutes? Is our “convenience” really worth sentencing the earth to deal with this garbage (literally!) forever?
You’ll have to answer for yourself, of course. We hope your answer is “NO!”
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As we mentioned, whenever you go out to eat, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a straw to go in your drink.
But that’s not what we mean by everywhere.
We mean the used straws. The ones we’ve all spent years tossing in the garbage within an hour or less of getting them.
(More than 500 MILLION of them used EVERY DAY just in America!)
Those straws show up everywhere.
Straws & plastic stirrers (like the ones used in coffee) have been one of the top 10 items cleaned up from coastal areas for decades.
(In fact 6 of the items on that top 10 list are plastic items, from grocery bags—Did you know there’s also an International Plastic Bag Free Day?—to bottles & lids.)
Straws and other plastic items also float around in the oceans, sometimes for years.
And sometimes they end up in animals’ stomachs.
Or a sea turtle’s nose:
You can find reusable straws in several different materials, including:
Now, we prefer steel or bamboo. Steel is recyclable. And bamboo is biodegradable.
Silicone is neither.
Well, technically it is recyclable. But only if you live in an area with a facility to do that. Most curbside recyclers don’t take it. And if you do “sneak” it into your recycling can, the recycling center will just toss it when it gets there.
And like plastic it won’t biodegrade.
But it is pretty durable, so it should last many years as long as you take care of it.
So yes, reusable silicone straws are a better choice than single-use plastic ones.
But as we said at the beginning, we prefer steel or bamboo.
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this environmentally friendly holiday.
This is another simple one. The name tells you (almost) exactly what to do!
Spend all of November without using a straw.
Or at least a single-use plastic straw.
If you really, truly, absolutely need a straw, buy yourself a pack of reusable straws. Many of them even come with cleaning brushes.
Then make sure you carry one of these with you every day. To make it simple, always have a clean one in your car, purse, or briefcase.
Then, at restaurants you can request “no straw.” If you’d like, take it a step further and ask those eateries to consider making straws a “by request only” item. The Plastic Pollution Coalition has some downloadable materials you can use to help spread the word.
You might also want to:
Head over to Jr. Ocean Guardians to see how else you can help.
The Last Plastic Straw also offers lots of links to good information on reducing our use of single-use plastics.
So, will you be joining the No Straw November movement?
And then maybe expanding your non-use of plastic straws to the rest of the year?
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