The environment draws the short straw when it comes to plastic waste on beaches. The focus of this grant is to provide information to the local restaurants and the public on the impact of single use plastic, particularly plastic straws.This is part of a larger Cape and Island initiative being coordinated by CARE.
According to the National Park Service, roughly, 182.5 billion single use plastic straws are disposed of each year, which translates into enough straws to wrap around the earth at the Equator 925 times per year. This represents the consumption in the United States alone.
Plastic straws made the top ten list for items collected during beach clean-ups by the Center for Marine Conservation. Clearly, only a small percentage of the straws used make it to recycling bins. Many straws end up on our beaches and ultimately into our valuable ocean resource harming fish, whales, birds, and turtles. Single use plastic straws do not degrade for hundreds or even thousands of years. They are found regularly on the beaches of Nantucket.
While straws, by weight, are not a large contributor to the eight million tons of ocean trash, they are harmful to ocean life. Their size and structure make them insidious polluters as they puncture, entangle, and are often consumed by marine animals and sea birds.
More information on the Nantucket program may be found here.