Monday, April 30, 2018

Let's eliminate plastic straws


One of the final and most far reaching projects done by the students of the Goodwin Niering Center for the Environment is this one by Anna Laprise and Avatar Simpson.
They have not only done a great deal of research, they have also taken their message to the public. They are working on the Connecticut College campus, and hope to bring their message to the greater New London community. They also had an interview on the campus radio station. This was followed by an interview with The New London Day; the article ran Saturday, and can be found here
Belowis their project summary and I'm including some of the links and resources they used. Many thanks to MaryEllen Mateleska Director of Education and Conservation at the Mystic Aquarium, for getting this movement started locally, keeping it going, and mentoring these two students.
Avalonia Land Conservancy supports these efforts. We don’t just preserve the land, but aim to protect the waterways and oceans that surround us all.
Beth Sullivan






Anna Laprise and Avatar Simpson have tackled a global issue and have gotten a good start on their home campus.

Stop Sucking is a project aimed at promoting the reduction or elimination plastic straw use. This is an extremely important cause due to the negative effects straws have on the environment. To give a sense of the magnitude of the issue, everyday in the United States alone 500 million plastic straws are used. This is enough straws to circle the earth 2.5 times in just one day. Furthermore, due to the type of plastic used in the production of straws, they are unable to be recycled. Thus, every plastic straw that has ever been used is still on the planet, either in the ocean or in a landfill. With these things in mind, it is unsurprising that straws are one of the most littered products in the world.

After hearing these staggering figures, it is important to look at what we, as consumers, can do to help positively impact our environment. One alternative to plastic straws is to simply go without. On average an American uses two straws daily, so one individual skipping straws for one year would save approximately 730 straws. If skipping a straw isn’t an option, a second alternative would be to use paper straws that are either biodegradable or compostable, or switch to reusable straws. Both options would significantly reduce waste, and have a less negative effect on the environment.

Finally, a great way to combat the use of straws can be done by local coffee shops, and restaurants. A simple step that can be taken to limit straw use is to not automatically provide straws. The common saying “out of sight, out of mind,” is an extremely effective method for limiting straw use. Furthermore, a second step that local businesses can take to limit straw use is to advertise the benefits of skipping on a straw. When using positive reinforcement, people feel more motivated to limit their straw use, and leaves an everyone wins sentiment among all parties. As such, these two simple steps can vastly decrease straw use.
Typical Straw Waste on Beaches around the World
Let's work to eliminate straws on the beach.
Photo from thelastplasticstraw.org

In summary, due to the negative environmental effects that straws have on our planet, it is extremely important that everyone does what they can to limit their straw use. There are easy fixes to this large problem that can be done at a personal level or on a business level. As we continue to promote the Stop Sucking initiative at Connecticut College, and in local communities, we want to thank Avalonia Land Conservancy and the Mystic Aquarium for inspiring this project, and for being stewards of this initiative. Specifically, Beth Sullivan, an Avalonia Land Conservancy volunteer, has been an integral component of this project, without her help, this movement wouldn't be where it is now.

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