5 Minute Changemaker: Say No to Plastic Straws

by Marsha Rakestraw

plastic straws

Plastic straws are one of those little things we don’t think much about.

We pop them in our to-go drinks.

Restaurants often automatically include them with our beverages.

They’re readily available at restaurants, bars, cafeterias, special events, and so on.

But ask this turtle and all the other sea animals, and they’ll tell you that plastic straws are a major problem.

People in the US throw away more than 500 million plastic straws a day. Add the other 7+ billion people on the planet, and you can see how significant the impact is.

There’s a lot we can do in just a few minutes to reduce the number of plastic straws causing harm. Here are a few ideas:

  • Say no to plastic straws.*
    Ask your server to please leave out the straw when they take your drink order, and if they bring you one anyway, ask them (politely) to take it back. Let them know why you don’t want a straw (phrase it kindly).*Note: We recognize that for some people, plastic straws are a valuable and necessary adaptive tool, and thus going plastic straw-free may not be an option.
  • Buy reusable straws for home and travel.
    Reusable straws come in glass, metal, bamboo, silicon, and other materials. Buy a couple to keep at home, and if you’re a big straw user, add one or two to your reusable container cache that you take with you when you eat out.
  • Ask restaurants and other straw-bearing places to use alternatives and/or implement an “ask-only” policy.
    Take a few minutes to kindly let businesses know about all the places that are going straw-free, implementing an “ask-only” policy, and/or switching to reusable straws, and be ready to share a couple useful resources with them.
  • Support/work with organizations striving to end plastic straw pollution.
    Many organizations (like this one, this one, and this one) are working on initiatives to ban plastic straws, to encourage businesses to switch to reusables (or ask-only policies), and more. Take a few minutes to support their work in whatever way you’re able.

Plastic straws may seem like a tiny issue, but collectively their impact matters. Saying no to plastic straws, for those of us who can do without them, and promoting alternatives to businesses, is another meaningful small step toward a just, compassionate, thriving world for all beings.

For more resources about plastics and plastic pollution, check out our curated Plastics/Plastic Waste Pinterest board.

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