You Are What You Eat With: Why Saying Yes to Plastic Straws is a Big NO for the Planet

Stop sucking

A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames
7 min readDec 27, 2019


I’m sure if you’re reading this then you’ve seen the upsetting video of the distressed sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in it’s nose. It was a heart-breaking video which garnered over 33 million views.

I live on the coast in Georgia near Savannah so I’m used to seeing sea gulls with plastic six-pack rings around their necks. Turtles are a common sight and I’ve seen them with deformed bodies because the turtle had a six-pack ring wrapped around its body when they were developing.

The video did have a positive ending though, the sea turtle could breath again uninterrupted and light was shed on man’s over use and over dependency on plastics, more specifically straws.

Because of the video, companies including Alaska Airlines, Disney, and Starbucks decided to phase out plastic straws. Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California, among other cities, have moved to ban or limit them.

Is this an over reaction? After all, straws are just a tiny fraction of the plastics in the ocean making up less than 0.03% of the more than 8 million tons of plastic waste.

In the Disney movie, Happy Feet. Lovelace is the self proclaimed Guru of the entire flock of penguins. He wears the Sacred Talisman, which was “bestowed on him by the Mystic Beings.” The Sacred Talisman in actuality, is a plastic six-pack ring that was caught around his neck while he was swimming.

The lowly straw is emblematic of unnecessary plastic items and how human activity harms the planet generally and more specifically the oceans. The message is getting through. In addition to Seattle and San Francisco, the European Union moved to prohibit straws as well.

I’ve listed a few bullet points to push my point through the rhetoric:

  • Most straws are made from a petroleum-based plastic called polypropylene made from fossil fuels.
  • Polypropylene isn’t BPA-free.
  • 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs.
  • Straws and stirrers ranked as the 8th most likely item of rubbish to be found in the…



A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames

ElbyJames is an American disabled combat vet exiled in the UK & a free speech absolutist. He’s an occasional Top Writer .