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‘Skip The Straw’: A Call For Earth Day

Earth Day Call to Arms: Skip the Straw

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Plastic straws.
Plastic straws. Pixabay
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The United Kingdom is proposing a ban on disposable plastic straws.

With Earth Day coming up this Sunday, advocates are asking everyone to follow suit and skip the straw.

Straws and stirrers are among the top 10 items found in coastal cleanups worldwide, according to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, which has been conducting annual trash pickups for more than 30 years.

The group says the ocean is littered with 150 million metric tons of plastic trash, clogging coastlines, ensnaring wildlife and even littering land far from any human settlement.

And each year, another 8 million tons wash in, according to a recent study.

WATCH: 'Skip the Straw': A Call For Earth Day
A screen capture from WATCH: ‘Skip the Straw’: A Call For Earth Day VOA

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton ear buds.

May called on other Commonwealth nations to do the same.

Also Read: Britain To Ban Sale Of Plastic Straws In Bid To Fight Waste

Skipping the straw will not solve the problem on its own, acknowledges Nick Mallos, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program.

“But they are a tangible action that all of us as individuals can take that do add up,” he said.

“It’s also about this mind shift that takes place when you start thinking about, ‘Oh, I don’t need a straw.’” Mallos added. “It cascades into other aspects of your consumer decision-making. Maybe after (skipping) the straw becomes habit, you think about the next step you might be able to take to reduce your waste footprint.”  VOA

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Earth Day 2018: Focusing on Ending Plastic Pollution

Earth Day 2018 focuses on Plastic pollution

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A demonstrator holds a placard as she participates in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico April 22, 2017. The placard reads:
FILE - A demonstrator holds a placard as she participates in the March for Science rally on Earth Day in Mexico City, Mexico April 22, 2017. The placard reads: "A country without science, research and education is a country dependent." Earth Day 2018, which is Sunday, will focus on plastics pollution. (VOA)

Each year on April 22, many people stop to think about the health of the world environment, as as if it were a New Year’s Day for nature, many make resolutions to treat the world around them more responsibly.

The day first celebrated in 1970 is approaching a half-century of existence with a movement that started in the United States and spread around the world. People celebrate the day with environmental action such as natural area cleanups, public demonstrations, tree plantings and, in 2016, the signing of the international Paris climate agreement, which aims to keep climate change in check.

The theme for 2018 is plastic pollution. Experts say a large mass of discarded plastic that has gathered in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles — more than 155 million hectares (600,000 square miles), or twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas.

FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black-footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Nov. 2, 2014. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle — remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters.
FILE – In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black-footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Nov. 2, 2014. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle — remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters. (VOA)

The patch developed in less than 100 years, as plastics have been in common use only since the 1950s. It is one of several masses of refuse found in the world’s oceans, brought together by weather patterns and water currents. Experts say many types of plastic that do not biodegrade can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years.

Also Read: ‘Skip The Straw’: A Call For Earth Day

This year’s Earth Day focuses on getting rid of single-use plastics, promoting the using of alternative materials, recycling and developing more responsible behaviors concerning the use of plastics.

The environmental group behind Earth Day, the Earth Day Network, estimates that 1 billion people around the world recognize Earth Day in some way.  VOA

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