What is the Strawless Challenge?
An eco-friendly challenge sweeps the nation. Thousands of people across the world pledge to decrease their plastic usage by cutting out disposable straws. Plastic straws pollute our oceans and kill marine life which causes a disturbance in the food chain.
How They Get to The Ocean
500 million. That’s how many straws people throw away each day in the United States alone. The reason why straws are so detrimental to the Earth is that their light weight allows them to easily pass through recycling centers and get disposed of as garbage. Plastic straws then end up in the ocean due to being left on beaches, blown out of trash cans, and carried through gutters and storm drains.
Marine life, specifically seabirds, and turtles ingest free-floating plastic which decreases their mortality rate by 50%. Videos of straws being painfully removed from marine animals are circling the internet and raising awareness to this problem.
Since plastic is not biodegradable it continues to break down into smaller pieces called “microplastics”. When these microplastics are consumed, energy levels decrease and the harmful chemicals from the plastics are absorbed into the bodies of the marine animals.
While many people believe that compostable straws are better than plastic straws that information is incorrect. When a compostable straw in introduced into the marine environment it is just as detrimental as a plastic straw.
For some people with MS, autism, and other physical challenges, straws are often necessary. The solution? Reusable straws made from paper, glass, steel, bamboo, and silicone are available online and in many grocery stores.
Who’s Doing it?
More and more people are taking the pledge to go strawless every day. Seattle, Washington was the first city to implement a ban on plastic straws and utensils starting in 2018. Celebrities like Amanda Seyfried, Lionel Richie, and Ellen Pompeo have endorsed large movements like For A Strawless Ocean while smaller organizations have started their own strawless challenges. One specific organization is the Sigma Kappa Sorority at Ohio University.
The Sisters of Sigma Kappa Beta Upsilon at Ohio University were introduced to the straw problem by member, Caitlyn Kreuger. Kreuger says “I had been reducing the amount of plastic I use in my life and I wanted to share that with others in hopes that someone else would be inspired to rethink using plastic. One of the reasons I joined Sigma Kappa was because of one of their philanthropies Inherit the Earth. I really liked how they cared about our planet just like I do.”
When she presented the idea of the challenge to the president of the chapter, Kristin Kawecki, Kawecki was all for it. “I thought it was refreshing to hear a new idea. It’s really awesome having a new member step up and have confidence to lead something like this. Inherit the Earth has been one of our service projects that we hadn’t taken the time to really dive into and I thought this was a perfect twist that out chapter could really run with and get excited about,” Kawecki told Hype.
The challenge? Eliminate plastic straw usage for a week and try to avoid reusable straws as well. Members signed up to take the pledge and capture videos and pictures of their progress using the hashtag #skstrawlesschallenge.
Throughout the week Caitlin received videos from the members that decided to participate in the challenge and compiled them into one video that shows everyone’s progress. While there were a few slip-ups, most of the woman successfully completed the challenge and agreed that eliminating plastic straws from their daily routine made them more aware of how much plastic everyone uses.
The sisters also said that after the straw challenge they felt guilty when they caught themselves using a plastic straw. The final consensus was that they would more straw conscious in the future. It’s cool seeing all of the different organizations that are taking action to make our oceans into a better environment! Join the #strawlesschallenge today to make our oceans cleaner.