Straws: One Small Swap, Massive Change for the Oceans

For most of us, plastic straws are an afterthought—they’re often served to us automatically, or are so readily available we grab them without thinking—but they’re actually the fifth most common trash found on beaches, and our use of them contributes to the 8.5 metric tons of plastic debris added to our oceans each year.

If it’s difficult to wrap your brain around that much waste, think of the potential fate of a single straw: Here, shown lodged in the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle.

It’s simple images like these, along with the knowledge of how easily we can help, that make a new 30-minute documentary STRAWS a great (kid-friendly) educational primer on the damage of plastic pollution. “For a lot of people, even myself, it’s really an aha moment,” says Linda Booker, the film’s director. “Plastic straws are a habit, and when you do kind of stop to mull it over, you realize you don’t need them.”

Of course, the film isn’t anti-straw, it’s anti plastic straw. There are a handful of other materials that make for great straws, and more and more places to find them:

PAPER: Aardvark Straws are customizable and durable (they can last for hours in water without disintegrating). There are more biodegradeable options on Amazon, too.

STEEL: Crate & Barrel sells a set of four; these Mulled Mind straws are handmade and come in different sizes and widths.

GLASS: Hummingbird Glass Straws are shatter-resistant and dishwasher safe.

BAMBOO: Brush with Bamboo‘s are grown organically, plus you can wash and reuse them.

GRAIN: Harvest Straws are made from non-GMO grain and grown without chemicals.

BRASS: Modern furniture designer Chris Earl makes these reusable brass drinking straws at his home workshop in LA.

There’s a lot we can do as consumers to reduce our plastic straw usage, outside of our own homes: We can ask they not be served with our drinks at restaurants, and we can even approach management to ask if they’d consider a straws-upon-request policy.

If you’re interested, STRAWS has a bunch of screenings lined up over the next few months—you can see it in LA on Oct. 14—or, you can arrange to host an educational screening of your own.