Marie Fazio

June 18, 2018

When Tori Maatta of Oakland goes out for a meal at a restaurant or orders a drink at a bar she always tells servers that she doesn’t need a straw. She’s usually carrying a retractable reusable one on her keychain.

She can’t help that servers often bring them out before she can say anything. That means a plastic straw ends up on her table or in her drink. And then, it’s thrown away, whether it’s used or not.

“It’s a minor convenience. And a really big waste,” said Ms. Maatta, 23. “All of that waste has added up, so reducing it can add up too…Basically, straws suck.”

Ms. Maatta represents a growing number of people who are refusing to use straws in an effort to reduce single-use plastic waste. The movement has exploded since 2015 when a graphic video went viral: A Texas A&M researcher was caught on video, pulling a bloody straw out of a sea turtle’s nose in Costa Rica.

Environmental organizations across the country have launched “strawless” movements — from the “Strawless Summer” campaign led by the Ocean City, MD, chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s “The Last Plastic Straw.” Each asks consumers and restaurants to reduce use of straws as they are non-recyclable and can be detrimental to wildlife.

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