Plastic Straws


More than 15 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. By 2025, experts predict that there will be one pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish.

Plastic straws are an unnecessary utensil for the vast majority of people and are usually thrown away after just one use. They may be small and lightweight but they’re a BIG problem — Americans use millions of plastic straws each day. These straws are not recyclable so they end up in landfills and incinerators as well as littering our streets, parks and roadsides, clogging our gutters, rivers, lakes, streams, and polluting our environment where they may persist for more than 200 years.

Plastic straws can sicken and kill seabirds, fish, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and other animals when they get lodged in their noses, throats and stomachs. As plastic straws that are exposed to sunlight, waves, wind and temperature extremes begin to break into smaller pieces, they become “microplastics” — tiny particles that can infiltrate the bodies of all living things, including us humans. The impact of microplastic pollution is not yet well studied but may be a contributing factor to climate change as well as a host of human ills.

In addition, many single-use plastic straws are made from polystyrene, the same plastic used to make what you may think of as “styrofoam” which is a likely human carcinogen. To sum it up, plastic straws are not only bad for sea turtles like this poor creature in the video below, they’re also bad for you.

This is the original video! Filmed by marine conservation biologist Christine Figgener, PhD. ***WARNING: Graphic Content & Inappropriate/ Strong Language!***...

So what can you do beyond never using a plastic straw again?

You can work on passing a local ban on plastic straws except upon request. It’s an effective way to reduce plastic pollution and help grow the movement against single use plastics! Use the resources on this page to help you get your State or local government to pass a straws upon request law.


You can download our model “Plastic Trifecta Ordinance” and use it as a starting point with your elected representatives. It is drafted to ban plastic bags, polystyrene, stirrers, and straws (except upon request) as well as balloon releases. We recommend doing all of these items at once, if possible!


If you’d prefer to limit your efforts to just plastic straws, you can use this sample petition language to start an online petition to raise awareness and put pressure on elected officials to act.


Check out our handy Plastic Straws Fact Sheet below – available to download as a PDF.

This fact sheet is also available in Spanish. Haga clic aquí para descargar en Español.


Like facts? (We do.) Want to arm yourself with more information? We recommend reading the two reports below to help you make your case:


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