A Wave of Change: BSU Should Ban Plastic Straws

By: Jessica Lyons

 Photo: Justin Hofman via Natural History Museum
Photo: Justin Hofman via Natural History Museum

Over the summer, the unsuspecting plastic straw became Public Enemy #1 to various people who claimed they were responsible for the polluting of the oceans on Earth. Pollution into our oceans causes the death of marine life, resulting in species to become at risk for endangerment or extinction.

Big name companies such as Starbucks and Disney World have opted to ban plastic straws, hoping to make a positive change.

Any reduction of plastic waste is helpful for the environment as a whole. Groups of government officials expressing disbelief in global warming has a negative effective on this strive for change. Politicians refusing to make strides toward a better, cleaner environment damages the smallest of actions crucial to benefitting our planet.

However, banning of plastic products of any kind is not entirely the solution here.

Plastic straws account for only about 0.003 percent of ocean pollution according to Bloomberg News. The rest is mainly due to pollution on land. This is derived from the pollution cars and factories emit. Driving motor vehicles causes oil to leak that then turns into runoff, which finds its way into bodies of water, polluting them. Speaking of water, fishing gear that gets lost or discarded is one of the biggest culprits to pollution.

So, should BSU ban plastic straws? Sure. This would make a tiny difference in the grand scheme of things. To make an impact, more needs to be accomplished.

Different sources claim that the straw movement was meant to pave the way for larger, more impactful projects. It’s something that’s easy enough to do for the average person. Reusable water bottles and metal straws are increasingly accessible.

But what else needs to be done to save the oceans?

For one, less seafood consumption. This might be a hard one to grapple with, especially if you’re a New Englander. However, the less fish that are eaten, the less demand there is for commercial fishing, thus reducing the amount of pollution from lost gear. According to World Animal Protection, a nonprofit organization, this could save about 1.28 billion pounds of waste from being dumped in the planet’s oceans annually.  

Does this mean everyone needs to stop doing the things they love, like eating lobster or taking road trips? Maybe, if you want to stop pollution entirely. This is an unlikely task though, and one that most likely won’t happen anytime soon, especially as population increases exponentially.

More people means more resources are needed, or alternatives need to be created and backed on an international level.

So, banning plastic straws seems like it may be one of the only doable solutions right now to reduce the pollution of earth’s oceans at an individual level. No, it’s not enough to save them entirely, but yes, Bridgewater State should absolutely try to make a difference, no matter how small.

If this helps to open up a conversation about environmental efforts and leads to important projects, what’s the harm in that? Everything needs to start somewhere, and BSU would be in good company with Disney and Starbucks if they chose to take initiative and enact a ban.

Until then, everyone can make small changes such as buying a reusable water bottle instead of using disposable ones and getting reusable metal straws to put in drinks while out and about.

Some members of the US government may not believe in global warming, but it is a serious issue that can no longer be ignored. Yes, living on Mars or the moon sounds cool, but there’s no place like earth.  We must fight to protect the planet we live on before it’s too late, and we no longer have a home.

And if that starts with making 0.003 percent of a difference for its oceans, then at least that’s a start.

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