olive ridley sea turtle
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Strawless in America, Ban Them All

LOS ANGELES — The only way 7.5 billion procreating humans can survive on this planet – our only home – is to mimic Nature. There is no waste in Nature. There is no unemployment in Nature. All life forms are interdependent.

Americans consume 500,000,000 petroleum-based plastic straws daily, or, 1.6 straws per person. That amounts to an unfathomable number of more than 182 billion plastic straws per year.

Plastic straws injure and kill untold numbers of sea birds and many other forms of sea life each year. A couple of years ago, marine biologists in Costa Rica found a distressed olive ridley sea turtle with what they thought was a parasitic worm burrowing into its nose. Using a Swiss army knife (the only tool on the boat) they performed a snap surgery. The biologists were horrified upon extracting the impediment to discover that it was a plastic straw.

olive ridley sea turtle with plastic straw lodged in nostril
6-inch plastic straw that was removed from olive ridley sea turtle’s nostril. Photo credit: Plastic Pollution Coalition

The oceans are brimming with subsidized, petroleum-based plastic straws. There may be as many as 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans. That’s 500 times more plastics than stars in the Milky Way.

Those plastics are coming from the land. It’s a no-brainer to correct. Humans must act swiftly to prevent any future plastics from contaminating the ocean and killing sea life.

plastic straw removed from the nose of olive ridley sea turtle
Plastic straw impaled in nostril of olive ridley sea turtle. Photo credit: YouTube.com

About five years ago, Miami Beach banned plastic straws. Any perpetrator bringing plastic straws to their beach faces fines between $50 and $500. A Strawless in Seattle campaign recently lead to the “Emerald City” banning plastic straws. A decade ago Seattle banned polystyrene and Styrofoam food containers.

Change is opportunity in disguise. Cities across America and around the world are leading the way to protect their inhabitants from the climate crisis and plastic pollution. A global plastic straw ban is forthcoming. In the meantime it is up to each of us to save the oceans and all its sea life by refusing to take plastic straws.

Join the movement each Saturday and pickup three pieces of plastic, take a picture and post online with #SaturdayPlasticPatrol.

Together we are an unstoppable force for goodness!


Dr Reese Halter is a treehugger, storyteller, award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Save Nature Now  

Tweet @RelentlessReese


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