A pleasant walk on the beach will often reveal unpleasant findings among the seashells: namely single-use plastics, one of the most common of which are drinking straws. Over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and too many of these find their way into the ocean, waterways and other natural habitats.
“The vast majority of straws are discarded after one use. Some make it to landfills, but a lot end up in the ocean,” says Dia Hitt, Education Curator at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. “Once there, straws and other single-use plastics become a problem for all types of marine life because many animals mistake the material for food.”
The Aquarium will promote straw awareness and other issues surrounding single-use plastics in conjunction with National Skip the Straw Day on February 23rd. Fun and educational activities will show visitors how easy it is to reduce their use of straws and also highlight the negative impact plastic pollution in the ocean has on wildlife.
“Making a change is as simple as saying ‘I don’t need a straw’ to your server at a restaurant or using paper, glass or metal straws as an alternative,” says Hitt.
During National Skip the Straw Day, Aquarium guests can meet a sea turtle in an animal presentation, hear about a growing “5 Minute Beach Cleanup” Instagram effort, and even take a pledge to reduce their use of plastic straws and then help spread the word on social media by sharing a photo taken inside a #SkipTheStraw “selfie frame.” All activities are included with regular Aquarium admission.