Why Are Plastic Straws So Bad for Sea Turtles?
Plastic straws seem innocent enough...
Somewhere along the line, they became such a commonplace item and so ingrained in our culture, that nowadays we barely spare a second thought before popping one in our drink and sipping with careless abandon.
But did you know that the small convenience of enjoying our drink through a single-use plastic straw (that we really only utilize for about 10 minutes each time, if we're being completely honest), can actually have a devastating effect on our endangered sea turtles?
what are these new plastic straw bans all about?
Of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution making its way into our oceans each year, only a small percentage of it is actually made up of plastic straws.
Having said that, (and before you throw your arms up to declare those new plastic straw bans to be a dreadful inconvenience), check out this horrifying reality...
The number of plastic straws being used and thrown away per day in America alone is absolutely staggering:
Suddenly pondering the impact incurred by the minor luxury we enjoy from drinking with a plastic straw becomes enough to make anyone choke on their frappuccino.Now multiply that number on a global scale.
The United States alone uses 500 MILLION plastic straws per day...
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED RECENTLY THAT MANY ECO-CONSCIOUS RESTAURANTS AND BARS ARE MAKING SOME CHANGES WHEN IT COMES TO HANDING OUT STRAWS... they're doing so by either:
If you're already on board with this relatively minor shift that’s making a hugely positive environmental impact… let’s keep those good vibes going!
Or, if you’re still a bit miffed at all this and need some more convincing to come over to the conservation side:
Let’s see things from an underwater perspective...
So, Where Do the Turtles Come into This?
You’ve probably already watched that graphic video that went viral a few years back, showing a suffering sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged up its nose. (We'll save you the heartbreaking graphics if you haven't seen it yet... )
This shocking exposure of a lesser-known underwater reality proved to be a huge catalyst for increased public awareness surrounding single use plastic straws. It launched a worldwide movement centering around reducing plastic pollution.
With this traumatic image forever burned into our memory, it’s certainly been a lot easier for us to say no to the straw.
Ok, so plastic straws can get lodged in the nose of a sea turtle...
That seems like exceptionally bad timing and geometry for the poor turtle… What are the chances?
But wait, there’s actually more.
Our majestic ocean friends will thank you even further for ditching the plastic straw when you look at how destructive these seemingly innocent utensils are for vulnerable turtle populations in these other ways...
how do Plastic Straws Kill Turtles?
Straws can be lethal to a turtle simply due to the fact that these beautiful beasts just don’t have the best vision…
When plastic straws are floating in the ocean currents, they look delicious to a hungry turtle.
FOR STARTERS, THEY TURN INTO TURTLE DINNER:
Turtles mistakenly identify them as food and eat them.
This may not seem like it would be a big deal, however don’t forget that plastic does not break down.
It instead stays in the stomach of the turtle, building up over time and sending incorrect messages to its brain that its stomach is full and it doesn’t need to feed.
Many creatures succumb to malnutrition and ultimately starve to death due to the fact that their stomachs are perpetually full of plastic, not the nutrients they need to survive.
Microplastics get into the food chain when they’re consumed by smaller creatures, which are then eaten by the sea turtle, and the cycle continues…
In a study by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, marine biologists reveal that plastic straws also have a devastating effect on new generations of precious sea turtle hatchlings.
secondly, THEY POLLUTE NURSERY AREAS SO YOUNG CAN'T GROW & SURVIVE:
Baby hatchlings rely on dense seaweed mats on the ocean floor while they’re growing and are small and vulnerable. These seaweed mats provide protection from predators and a food source, and turtle hatchlings spend the first years of their life sheltering here.
Plastic straws break down into smaller pieces, called microplastics, and get trapped in these sheltering seaweed mats. Hatchlings eat the microplastics that settle on the mats and their tiny stomachs fill up with the plastic.
Young turtles get tangled and trapped in the seaweed when it’s littered with microplastics, and they’re unable to surface for air, leading to them eventual suffocation.
HOW CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Every little bit counts, and it’s as easy as telling your server you don’t need a straw at the restaurant, or bringing your own cup along to the coffee shop for your to-go brew.
And better yet, go reusable! We’ve got you covered when it comes to high-quality, functional stainless steel straws:
PRO TIP: Grab yourself some Greens Steel Stainless Steel Straws and you’ll never need a plastic straw again! They’re reusable, durable and super easy to clean with the included cleaning brush that comes with each pack. (Plus, each set comes with two curved straws and two extra wide straws that are perfect for smoothies- so your whole family can climb aboard the turtle conservation train!)
Here at Greens Steel, we love sea turtles… But honestly, who doesn’t?!
Doing our part to help these majestic sea creatures survive and thrive is simple, and it just takes a small adjustment to our habits to make a world of difference to the turtle population worldwide.
We don't need any more convincing, and we're sure you won't either!
P.S. You can even double-down on your reduction of single use plastics waste reduction when you grab yourself a Greens Steel BEAST Tumbler! Not only is it packed with features that’ll make you turn your nose up at flimsy plastic cups for the rest of eternity; but each one also comes with two included stainless steel reusable straws, plus a straw cleaning brush too!
Fefe | Greens Steel Wellness Contributor
Greens Steel is a family company. Its roots are firmly planted in healthy living, ethical business models and a dedication to preserving our earth in its pristine beauty for many generations to come.