No Plastic Straws – Every Little Bit Helps

A controversial topic that has received a fair amount of time in the spotlight lately is the issue of plastic straws and the effect plastic has on the environment. After much research, studies have shown that plastic causes adverse effects on the environment, as damaging chemicals emitted from plastic have been proven to seep into the surrounding water sources, which then is drunk by animals and utilized by plants and ultimately consumed by humans. The world is producing 300 million tons of plastic per year, and only 9% of that plastic is being recycled. Unfortunately, cutting back on plastic straws or eliminating them from the dining experience completely won’t contribute much to the helping of reduction of plastic waste, but many environmentalists believe the little effort will eventually translate into a bigger effort to reduce our plastic-usage.

Within the Cape Henry community, 80% of people admitted to using plastic straws, none making the effort to use paper, metal, or even wooden; only 20% commented that they use no straws. California, the first state to make a conscious effort to officially ban plastic straws across the state, “was an obvious state to make the first move on the issue because of their democratic tendencies,” says Peter DeTorres, alumni ‘89. However, the Virginia Beach area is rolling forward to mend the issue. Many restaurants have been actively participating in giving no plastic straws to customers, especially surrounding the Oceanfront on Skip-the-Straw day.  Ashleigh Cake, Middle School science teacher and a passionate environmentalist, and Peter identified restaurants such as 1608 Crafthouse, Tapas, Chicks, and Terrapin – popular places to dine within the local area – that offer no plastic straws or do not immediately hand them out. Peter believes the reason businesses hand out plastic straws in the first place is because the human race is “always on the move” therefore people need lids, and with lids come straws.” He further stated, “We need to find another, more environmentally-safe alternative or ask for no lids and straws at all.”

Mrs. Ashleigh Cake suggested an alternative:  one change we could strive to incorporate in everyday life is using metal or paper straws. Mrs. Cake always has a stash of paper straws on hand in her classroom to follow through with her suggestion. When asked what they think of the people who claim to be environmentally sound and against plastic straws, but continue to use plastic straws in daily life, Ashleigh responded that we as people “need to spread the word and put in place the practice of not using plastic straws” to set an example for those around us, in strong belief that “every little bit helps” in the constant effort to eliminate plastic straws from our lifestyles and that “if people see you not using them,” they might think twice and not use the straws themselves. Peter responded that “those people don’t truly mean what they say,” and that “we should inspire them to take action,” in turn causing a chain reaction of inspiration to not use plastic straws and ultimately aid our environment.