Refusing plastic straws is not enough to save the oceans

It is crazy how in the last two months there has been a huge surge of recognition for the #RefuseTheStraw cause. Many people have chosen to say no to using a plastic straw due to the environmental effects that plastic has on our oceans. But, is this enough? Obviously every step counts towards helping our environment, but there are many other ways we can help.

1. Accessibility concerns

Through the popularity of this cause has come people speaking about the accessibility needs of some people. This discusses how some people may require straws due to their accessibility needs. They may not be able to use a metal, glass or wooden straw and need plastic. This is best discussed by Jessica Kellgren-Fozard on Youtube.

There are many reasons why accessibility is important to be considered. One is how people who need plastic straws to live their life often may feel alienated by movements like this. They have a requirement that cannot be met because of cities banning the tools they need. They may also be subject to harassment for not following the latest craze of "caring about the environment for a second because I saw it on social media."

I started to really think about accessibility in all aspects when I began web designing. A huge part of web design is ensuring that your content can be consumed by everyone including those using a screen-reader or other devices to help them navigate the internet with their accessibility needs. We must consider these needs when determining where we put our effort in helping our environment.

My hand with a mango dragonfruit refresher from starbucks, with a plastic straw.

My hand with a mango dragonfruit refresher from starbucks, with a plastic straw.

2. It's not just a phase, mom!

Environmental consciousness pops up every once in a while. It has gone from plastic bag usage to plastic straw usage - which is great! We need it to be more mainstream that people care about their plastic use. However, many times these moments are exactly that - a moment. People care for a minute and then they go back to their single-use plastic cups (which I'm guilty of), plastic cutlery and other forms of waste. Of course, it is a process for everyone to reduce their consumption as much as they can, but it seems like it increasingly becomes a fad.

3. Save the fish!

It's interesting how quickly people want to "save the fish" by not using a straw but won't save the fish by simply not eating fish. The fishing industry is a huge cause of environmental affects due to mass farming. Cowspiracy tells us how 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted and that we could see fishless oceans by 2048. This is due to the overfishing that not only happens for the fish that is meant to be caught, but also the ridiculous amount of by-catch that gets scooped up. That's where you turtles, dolphins and other fish get caught and are discarded of once on land. 

Of course I understand the health limitations that some people may have to not eating fish, but i urge you to think more beyond what is "easy" for you and rather how you can truly continue to make an impact on your environmental footprint. 

4. What about waste-free?

If you are truly passionate about reducing your plastic waste, I encourage you to go waste-free. This year I have begun to commit myself to being waste-free. I use reusable bags, cook and pack my food in reusable containers and always try to reduce, reuse and recycle. Reducing your single-use plastic is an amazing start. It is so easy to constantly be surrounded with so much waste. From the fast-fashion industry to fast-food being on every corner we have to do better for our planet.

I commend everyone for making as much of a difference as they can. I am a work in progress just like you. Let's embark on this journey to reduce as much of our waste as we can to ensure that we can fix the planet we have heavily damaged.  

If you would like a recap on my waste-free journey so far, leave me a comment to let me know!