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By now, most of us know about the dangers of plastic ending up in our landfills and in our oceans, and the harm it is causing to our ecosystem. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, which means every single piece of plastic that was ever produced still exists in some form or another today. This is one of the least sustainable materials we have created, yet it’s also one of the most abundantly used. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

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The funny thing about this whole conundrum is that we really don’t need to be using plastic at all; we have only been using it for less than a century and there are plenty of plastic alternatives available to us, especially now that consumers are becoming more aware of its impact. Glass and paper packaging, wooden toothbrushes, purchasing foods in bulk, opting out of pre-cut veggies packed in plastic — these are just some of the ways we can avoid using plastic.

Small Change, Big Impact

Recently, Seattle, Washington, started an initiative to help reduce the amount of plastic pollution their city was producing, and thus “Strawless In Seattle” was born. Take a look.

How much would you miss plastic straws at a restaurant? Would you even notice their absence? Many restaurants don’t use them to begin with, so it’s hardly a big shift to eliminate them from others.

This whole thing got me thinking, would it be possible to make this a worldwide initiative? Can we encourage other cities to ban plastic straws too? Seattle cut them from 150 restaurants in the city, saving over 2 million plastic straws from landfills in the process. Something so simple can have such a profound impact.

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What Can You Do? 

It’s simple: Just request drinks without a straw whenever you are out at a restaurant or bar. If the server asks why, which is unlikely to happen, you can tell them as much or as little as you like. If you want to let them know you are doing your part to protect the environment, go for it, and  maybe say it loud enough so that nearby tables can hear you. To take this up a notch, you can share this idea with your family and friends, or present it to your city council to see if your city would take part in this challenge too. Most restaurants would likely hop on board, because let’s face it — it will save them money in the end.

Plastic straws are kind of like plastic bags — you may not realize how much you don’t need them until you stop using them, or find a better alternative. There are many easy ways to minimize the amount of plastic you are consuming, but it does take some effort. No one really wants to contribute to the destruction of the environment or acidification of the world’s oceans, but pollution tends to be an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. Unfortunately ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. To learn more about what you can do, check out 10 Smart Hacks To Cut Plastic Packaging Out Of Your Life.

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