'Strawless' hashtag not enough
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Summer is over and conversations about using reusable straws and saving the sea turtles are dying down now that we’re all not in “beach-mode” anymore. The tag #strawlesssummer focuses on a single object and time frame, and I don’t believe that it creates a lasting impact.
The #strawlesssummer initiative gained popularity after a viral video showed how a straw harmed a sea turtle. The idea behind the initiative is to raise awareness for the harmful effects of single-use plastic on animals and the environment. I think that this initiative failed at its main goal because it focused solely on one single-use plastic item and the summer while this is a year-round issue — not to mention the fact that everyone was still sipping on iced coffee in a plastic cup but it’s somehow better because you’re using a metal straw.
The slogan associated with the initiative “save the sea turtles” also is narrow-minded. There is an entire array of animals impacted by single-use plastic and focusing on one situation and one animal and one object during one time period of the year. There is more that each of us can do, and I hope that environmental efforts like #strawlesssumer will become focused on the broader issue in order to increase the positive effects that it can have.
One thing that I did like about the initiative was the partnership of local restaurants, especially around the coast. However, there are animals and wildlife across the state, country and even the world that could benefit from less human littering and contamination of the spaces that humans share with wildlife.
The writer is a chancellor's fellow in ECU Honor's College.