Four months ago, a battle cry for “save the turtles” trended across the web as a ‘joke’ but unexpected as memes go, this joke opened the door to kickstarting global awareness on the fight against ocean pollution.
to help save the turtles i’m going start throwing away any plastic straws I see !! it’s time that we get rid of them all 🙂 anytime you’re given one I encourage you guys to throw it away and use your metal straws. #savetheturtles
— Sophia (@sophiamcniel) August 2, 2019
— ilovemcdonaldsfries ツ (@thatboyjimenez9) August 1, 2019
But, before the meme, this fight had already started in 2015 when Leatherback Trust uploaded a video on YouTube where people were attempting to remove a straw from a sea turtle’s nostril. The video had gained over 16 million views and had a major influence on the way people viewed plastic straws.
Major companies like Starbucks, American Airlines, Disney (with the exception of Tokyo Disney), SeaWorld Entertainment, and more have announced their pledge to phase out their use of plastic straws.
For example, Starbucks’ plan of action is to use recyclable nitro lids. In the instance a customer requests a straw, they would get one, but it would be made out of biodegradable material. In select stores, there is also the option of purchasing a set of reusable metal straws.
We're removing plastic straws in our stores globally by 2020—reducing more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from our stores.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) July 9, 2018
Another aspect to this global phenomenon are social influencers using their platforms to spread awareness. Social influencers like Jeffree Star were touched by this movement and showed support by promoting the use of metal straws.
— Jennifer Calixto Caras (@jcalixtocaras) August 3, 2019
A reusable straw is claimed to be seen in a viral video of the girl who started the “Here’s the motherfucking tea” meme, another global trend thanks to TikTok.
But a simple act such as going strawless can go a long way toward decreasing pollution in the ocean. According to the Ocean Conservancy, 2.5 billion metric tons of solid waste is produced around the world and 275 million metric tons of that waste is plastic. 100 million metric tons of that come from the coast while eight million metric tons of that end up in the ocean every year.
Keep in mind, while these companies are pushing to make these changes, some of these companies pollute at a much larger scale. We all need to be involved to make the change we want to see or else these collected numbers could double in the next 10 years, according to the Ocean Conservancy.
Every social media post is helpful, but every action manifests change in a way that truly counts.