The problem of plastic pollution
Today, plastic pollution is found in almost every marine habitat on Earth, including polar sea ice and the deepest ocean trenches. About 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean from sources on land each year. That’s the equivalent of a dump truck pouring a load of plastic trash into the ocean every minute, every day. Unless we do something about it, that rate is expected to double by 2025.
The concentration of plastic in lakes and rivers can be even higher than in the ocean. About 22 million pounds of plastic—much of it litter—winds up in the Great Lakes every year.
On average, every American throws away 270 pounds of plastic a year, and only about 9 percent is recycled. Straws, which cannot be recycled due to small size and plastic type, consistently show up among the top 10 items collected in beach cleanups around the world, along with beverage bottles, shopping bags, coffee lids and other single-use plastic. This debris, whole or in bits, harms fishes, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.
How you can help
SheddTheStraw is the first step to plastic-free waters. Skipping the straw you don’t need is a simple, but powerful, action that raises awareness about the need to reduce more kinds of single-use plastic. It sends a signal to businesses and government officials that there is public support for change.
If you prefer straws, you can opt for more sustainable, reusable alternatives such as glass, steel, or bamboo. If you already carry a reusable shopping bag and water bottle, having a reusable straw is the next step in protecting aquatic animals and their habitats. Of course, ACP strongly supports having plastic straws available and accessible to those who need them.
In the first year of the partnership, the 22 ACP facilities kept more than 5 million plastic straws out of the environment through their own operations. In addition, with ACP support, nearly 500 businesses, including the Chicago White Sox, United Airlines and Loews Chicago hotel, now offer straws only on request, along with other plastic-reduction commitments.
Visit www.ourhands.org for more examples of what you can do and to support the work of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership.