By Karen D. Kendrick-Hands, Immediate Past Chair of Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group (ESRAG)
How can you best celebrate World Environment Day, today June 5? The 2018 theme for this year’s United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) event is Beat Plastic Pollution. Celebrate in your home, your club and your community by reducing the role of single-use plastics in your life, like straws, and challenging others to join you.
Drinking straws do fill an important need: straws made from paper, or even real straw left behind after harvest, have been used to protect public health, including reducing the risk of polio transmission. Straws make independent drinking possible for people with disabilities.
The problem is that in the United States alone there are an estimated 500 million plastic straws used and tossed every day. They are used for only a few minutes, but can last in the environment for centuries, and are among the top 10 pollutants collected during beach cleanups. Plastic straws slip through recycling equipment and end up in the bellies of fish, turtles, sea birds, and mammals.
Observe World Environment Day this year by acting to Beat Plastic Pollution. Here are a few simple ways you can start to take action:
- When shopping, skip the one-use plastic bag and bring your own multi-use bag.
- Pass-up that plastic coffee stirrer or lid with your take-out cup. Travel with your own refillable mug.
- Quench your thirst from a water bottle that you refill and avoid a single-use water bottle which can be four pieces of plastic: bottle, cap, that ring attaching the cap, and even the label.
- If you must use a straw, bring your own made from metal, glass or bamboo. When you drop it in your drink, you will create a conversation.
Honor today by committing to go straw-free. For the sake of Planet Earth, commit that yesterday’s plastic, single-use, sipping tube will be your Last Straw.
For information about how your club can enroll others in a Last Straw campaign, to host your own community plastics clean-up, or to engage with the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group’s (ESRAG) Plastic Pollution Reduction team, contact us. Check in with ESRAG in Toronto in the House of Friendship (Booth 310), and we’ll share resources about greener alternatives for sipping and so much more. Happy World Environment Day!