Will banning plastic straws save the ocean?

There has been a lot of conversation and action being taken against single-use plastic in many areas around the world, specifically plastic straws. There are a number of countries and regions banning straws from restaurants and bars, as their way of contributing to the fight against the plastic epidemic ruining our oceans. But will this initiative really make any difference? Aren’t plastic straws too small and insignificant to make any real difference? Don’t we have bigger issues at hand? 

In the United States alone, it is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used every day. That means 500 million straws today, 500 million straws tomorrow, and so on. By the end of the week, we’re talking about 3.5 Billion straws in the US alone. That’s an insane amount of plastic that will find its way into the ocean.

In all fairness, trillions of plastic straws is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of plastic waste generated by the US. It’s estimated that the US creates 30 million metric tons of plastic waste every year. Our straws account for about 0.2% of that. Not very much.

If I’ve got you believing that I think the straw ban isn’t worth it, that it’s a waste of time, think again. I believe this movement will be extremely powerful, and here’s why.

To eliminate our use of plastic straws, we will have to create new habits. We’ll drink from paper straws, straight from the cup, or we’ll bring our own reusable straws with us when dining out. Having to change a habit is difficult, and forces your brain to create new pathways in order to create those new habits. However, our brains are smart, and while we are creating these new habits, our brains will question why one form of plastic is ok but not another. It will have more awareness and this will likely lead to a change in other behaviors. This may not happen immediately, and it may not happen to everyone, but it will certainly be a source of momentum for change 

All I’m saying is I don’t believe the straw ban is only about straws. I believe tt’s about changing habits, adapting, and evolving into creatures who care about our whole world, not just the small space we occupy in it. I believe plastic straws are the first baby step towards saving our oceans.