Plastic pollution poses a growing threat to our oceans, coastlines, and waterways. To raise awareness about this issue, I authored Senate Concurrent Resolution 139, which proclaims the month of November as "No Straw November" in the state of California.
Shelby O'Neil, Junior Ocean Guardian founder, created the No Straw November initiative for her 2017 Girl Scouts of America Gold Award Project. The initiative includes a pledge to refuse single-use plastic straws during the entire month and to keep a tally of how many straws you eliminated from potentially ending up in the ocean.
In the United States, there is an average of 200 pounds per person of plastic waste created each year. From the time plastic production took off in the 1950s until now, more than 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced; of that amount, 6.3 billion tons have been discarded; and of that amount, only 9 percent has been recycled. The equivalent of a full dump truck of plastic enters global oceans every minute.
Plastic does not biodegrade. While it may break down into smaller pieces over time, it never goes away. Scientists are finding plastic all over the ocean, from polar ice caps, to gyres, to the stomachs of marine life. An estimated 700 species of marine animals have been reported to have eaten or become entangled in plastic.
Many companies and cities have joined in the effort to reduce the usage of not only single-use plastic straws, but other single-use plastics as well. Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, Disney, and Hyatt Hotel are a few of the large corporations that have made commitments to reduce their plastic footprint, and the cities of San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and Carmel have instituted "straws upon request" policies or bans.
There are many ways you can help to reduce plastic pollution. Pass up drinks in single-use plastic bottles and avoid other single-use plastics when possible. Recycle, shop with reusable bags, and try to purchase products with non-plastic packaging. Support restaurants that offer biodegradable take-out containers and utensils, and join me as we pledge to take part in a "No Straw November"! Together, we can reduce plastic pollution and protect California's beautiful oceans, coastlines, and waterways.