Fort Myers Beach plastic straw ban goes into effect Video by Michael Braun
NEWPORT – Five million straws and counting.
A recent national push to cut plastic pollution has already seen a significant cut back in waste that has threatened marine life. Five million straws that could have ended up polluting our oceans annually have now been eliminated.
Five-hundred businesses, like Mc Donald’s, have committed to the cause.
But efforts of the #FirstStep campaign and the aquatic organizations across the U.S. – including the Newport Aquairum – behind it aren’t stopping there.
They are stepping up their efforts to encourage people, businesses and cities around the country to cut back on single-use plastic, starting with plastic straws.
“Cutting back on plastic straws doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s an important first step,” Newport Aquarium Executive Director Eric Rose said. “It gets people thinking and talking about ways they can reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items and encourages the innovation of ocean-friendly alternatives.”
Plastic pollution in the ocean, rivers, and lakes negatively affects aquatic animals and ecosystems.
According to Aquarium Conservation Partnership, today, plastic pollution is found in almost every marine habitat on Earth – including polar sea ice and the deepest ocean trenches.
To date, humans have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of virgin plastics with global production growing from just 15 million tons in 1964 to 322 million tons in 2015 – a twentyfold increase.
As a result, about 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean from land each year which equals one dump truck full of plastic per minute.
Newport Aquarium and the others are seeking commitments from 500 more businesses; pledges from individuals, and policy action by local governments, all to reduce a growing source of single-use plastic waste that harms ocean and freshwater wildlife around the world.
The campaign kicks off with #NoStrawNovember, a nationwide movement asking people who don’t need them to refuse plastic straws for 30 days.
Other efforts in the #FirstStep campaign include:
- An online pledge site (pledge.ourhands.org) where individuals can commit to make the last straw their first step to plastic-free waters.
- Initiatives by partner aquariums to inspire cities in their regions to pass straws-on-request ordinances and other local measures to reduce single-use plastic.
- An opportunity for individuals to get tips via text message on ways to cut back on single-use plastic in their daily lives, by texting SEATURTLE to 49767.
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