Marine biologist wants to make plastic straws extinct on the Great Barrier Reef

straws at the beach
via The Last Straw on the GBR / Facebook

Nicole Nash's campaign urges tour operators and coastal resorts to ban straws completely in an effort to reduce plastic pollution.

A young marine biologist from Queensland, Australia, is working hard to make plastic straws extinct on the Great Barrier Reef. Nicole Nash recently launched a campaign called The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef to get tour boat operators, cruise ships, and coastal resorts to ban plastic straws completely.

Banning plastic straws is an easy solution to a serious problem. They are an unnecessary accessory to people's drinks (except in the case of medical issues), but they have created an enormous problem. Australians use an estimated 10 million straws a day, and the U.S. statistics are even more horrifying -- 500 million straws a day, which is enough to wrap around the circumference of the Earth 2.5 times daily!

Needless to say, eliminating them would go a long way to reducing plastic trash along the Great Barrier Reef. Currently, as Nash explains in the short promotional video below, 75 to 95 percent of marine debris found in and around the reef is plastic. This is harmful to the creatures that depend on the reef for survival, not to mention ugly.

The Cairns Post reports:

"Whales and sea turtles, among other animals, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and sea birds are attracted to colourful plastic fragments that they may feed to their young. With a false feeling of fullness they starve to death or die from internal injuries or blockages. When the animal decomposes the plastic in the guts is released and can kill again."

The campaign has a straw-free pledge that business owners can sign. As of this past weekend, more than 30 tour operators had already signed up, which indicates that Nash's campaign is resonating with many people.

Alternatives do exist, such as glass, stainless steel, bamboo, and paper straws, but even these are unnecessary. Nash recommends sticking to the campaign motto: "Sip, don't suck."

Once people quit straws, then it will be easier to start talking about other forms of disposable plastic that can, and should, be eliminated from our lives. Nash says:

“We want to start a conversation to get people thinking about what else they can do to reduce their single-use ­consumption.”

Watch the campaign video below:

Related Content on Treehugger.com