Skip the Straw: written by Maria Cooler & Amber Goldberg.
Have you ever thought about how many single use plastic straws you use in a day?
We never did until this past summer, when Maria Cooler (founder of ECO/SOS) had the humbling opportunity of being an intern at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail, NC. One of the first things interns were exposed to was the “I Skip the Straw Campaign” through Ocean Conservancy via their director. All interns were told we could not use any kind of straws for the duration of the internship because of the damage that they can cause to sea turtles. I mean have you seen the viral video of the straw in the turtle’s nostril? However, with a little research, we quickly learned that these “convenient” straws are one of the top ten plastic debris that ends up into aquatic environments.
Maria got back to school and told one of her best friends and fellow classmates, Amber Goldberg, about the straw campaign. We both looked at each other on the couch one night and immediately knew we had to get this campaign started on our campus! We are both Marine Science majors at Jacksonville University in Florida and are the lead members of our environmental club on campus. To say this was right up our alley is pretty much an understatement!
We want our university to become the first university in the United States that is completely plastic straw free. We first contacted Ocean Conservancy to help us get started and to use their “I Skip the Straw Campaign” logo. They excitedly became our first supporter for our campaign, but we knew we needed more! We next spoke to our Director of Marine Science, Dr. Quinton White and he was thrilled about the idea that we wanted to push for our campus to become greener and told us that our Marine Science Research Institute would support us 100%. We were lucky to receive other eager supporters along the way too like OCEARCH, Klean Kanteen, One Less Straw (One More Generation), and our newest one, The Happy Sea!
For this campaign we are asking for signatures to help show our president of the university how many students and faculty support this idea. Our original goal was to get 300 signatures, but after a week-long tabling event, accompanied by a one week ban on plastic straws, we are now aiming for more than 500! This is because the want and feedback we are getting is fueling our passion for this even more. Once this new goal is achieved we will take the signatures to our president to see if he can help us target Chick-fil-A and Starbucks on our campus to use paper straw alternatives instead.
For those interested in the campaign we ask them to also try not use any single use plastic straws for one month. This is a lot easier of a commitment than to ask them to give them up for a life time; with the hope that it will become habit over the short time they are consciously aware of their usage.
To answer the question at the beginning of this article, we both never thought about how many, what seem to be harmless, plastic straws we used from day to day. The thought of it now breaks our hearts, which again fuels us to continue to push for this change on our campus. Not only do we not use plastic straws on campus, but especially when we go out to restaurants. We have gotten most of our family and friends to do the same! It’s quite contagious idea because there are so many other healthier and greener alternatives like paper or stainless-steel reusable straws. We happen to carry ours everywhere we go and even have ones in our gloveboxes for the occasional pit stop at fast food places.
We are fighting the fight of plastic straws to better ourselves, our campus, communities, and environment and hopefully you will too!
Join our movement or create your own! We are the voice of the younger generation and the time to fix things is now.
~ Written by Maria Cooler & Amber Goldberg