When you are done eating at a restaurant and you sip the last of your drink from the bottom of your glass, do you ever wonder where your straw goes after the table is bussed? According to www.thelastplasticstraw.org, 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States every single day. That amount of straw waste is able to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times, and the website goes on to mention that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic littering our ocean. These numbers are astonishing, and may leave you wondering, “Am I doing my part to help abolish plastic straw waste?”

There are a few options in which students can take part to make sure both our campus and our oceans are more waste-free. If you are unable to ditch your straw habit, or are unable to drink liquids without a straw, your first option is to try a sustainable route: reusable straws. Kayla Zopfi, freshman class representative here at Concordia, suggests buying stainless steel reusable straws on Amazon.

“I prefer my stainless-steel straws,” Zopfi said. “They are affordable and make a difference. We all have the power to make a change in helping our environment and using a reusable straw is a really easy way to turn things around.”

Zopfi purchased the straws this past December and uses them frequently.

“They are easy to clean and fit nicely in my backpack. It is something you don’t even have to think about using. It is no different than using a plastic straw, but much better for the environment,” she said.

If purchasing a reusable straw is not an affordable option for you, or you think you might not miss using a straw that much, there is another step you can take to help ditch straws in 2018: stop using them entirely. Asking your waitress or waiter to forget your straw with your drink requires little to no effort to be thoughtful and proactive. Though drinking out of a plastic straw would be an easy way to slip back into your old habits, saving the environment is much more important than utilizing a plastic straw out of familiarity to sip on your soda. Thankfully, our beloved Anderson Commons does not offer straws. But next time you find yourself at the Coffee Stop or the Maize, politely decline a straw or simply do not grab one.

I have long been aware of the plastic crisis that is littering our ocean, but was prompted to make a personal change once I witnessed an alarming video on Facebook. In a video that recently went viral, a team of scientists were shown trying to pull a straw out of the nostril of a tortoise with a set of pliers. The tortoise was in visible pain, and bled from its nostril as the scientists tried to pull the straw out as gently as they could. After seeing this video for the first time, I quickly ordered a set of reusable straws from Amazon. If this is not a serious enough image for you to consider quit using plastic straws, I highly encourage you to watch the video in its entirety and ask yourself how you feel about plastic waste harming our ocean life.

The next time you find yourself out and about with the option to use a plastic straw, please pass.