By Maria Bohan
On a hot summer’s day, a cup of iced coffee or tea seems like a lifeline.
Think back to the last time you were saved by one of these popular offerings at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Can you remember how you sipped your drink? Was it through a plastic straw?
More likely than not, it was. And you were not alone—500,000,000 straws are used daily in the United States. 1
That means that 500,000,000 straws are thrown out each day, too.
The large number is shocking. Straws are such small objects; we rarely think about them.
Recently, however, people have begun to realize the impacts of plastic—and plastic straws—on our planet.
Sister Dorothy Maxwell, O.P. commented, “[plastic] is cheap, easy to throw out instead of washing the dishes and silver you have in your house. You put [your dishes] back and use them again. You use plastic, and it stays here until we have no more place to put it.”
Our plastic products “stay here” in landfills and our oceans, posing large risks to marine life.
At nine years old, Vermont native Milo Cress started the Be Straw Free campaign. He went from restaurant to restaurant, asking owners only to give out straws if customers asked for them. 2
His work alerted many Americans—and corporations—to the needlessness of straws in their lives or daily operations.
Starbucks is the biggest company to recently jump on board the straw free movement; McDonald’s, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Hyatt Hotels have also committed to reducing or completely their eliminating plastic straw use.
It is our job to recognize the impacts our choices will have on God’s creatures and the planet God has created.
This month, consider taking on the Plastic Free July challenge and eliminating plastics from your life for a day, a week, a month, or from now on. 3
A great start to the challenge would be limiting your plastic straw use.
If you’re not ready to go plastic-free yet, the next time you’re at a restaurant or coffee shop, at least be conscious of plastic’s role in damaging our environment.
Maria Bohan is a Volunteer for the Communications and Development Office at the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York. She is a student at Bryn Mawr College majoring in English and a graduate of Pearl River High School.