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The Problem with Plastic

Disposable plastic is only in your hands for a moment, but it piles up forever in our ocean, rivers, and lakes – and hurts your favorite aquatic animals. 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.

“You can be part of the solution and help to improve the situation. ”

Jaclyn Wegner, director of conservation action
Plastic and foam debris floats in the waters of Lake Michigan, visible from the edge of a pedestrian path bordering the lake along Chicago's skyline.
A conch shell sits on a shallowly submerged beach in the Bahamas littered with plastic pollution.

How You Can Help

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.


Chicago Marathon

Chicago White Sox

Loews Chicago Hotel

United Airlines

See our #SheddTheStraw restaurant partners.

Own a restaurant or business?

You can become a #SheddTheStraw collaborator! Contact us at [email protected]