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How Plastic Straws Affect the Ocean and Sea Turtles


By now, you’ve probably seen the heartbreaking viral video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in his nose. That video opened up the minds of millions of people, helping launch the anti-single-use plastic straw movement. The movement has become a contested one over the past few years, with some people demanding that establishments stop offering straws, others advocating for widely-available plastic straws to support people with disabilities, and many falling somewhere in between.

When it comes to the great straw debate, there is certainly a lot to learn — so read on for more information on how plastic straws affect the ocean, sea animals, and where most ocean plastic actually comes from. 

How Do Plastic Straws Affect the Ocean?

Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Plastic is not biodegradable — instead, the material eventually breaks down into tiny particles known as microplastics that are 5 millimeters or smaller in length, making them difficult to clean or filter from the ocean. Plastic is polluting oceans all over the planet, interfering with underwater ecosystems, killing sea animals, and more.