Across all media boards, straws have recently taken the spotlight as they’re making a dramatic exit from many restaurants and companies. You’ve probably seen that Starbucks has announced they’re eliminating plastic straws and replacing their drinks with plastic lids, a much more commonly recycled alternative. While it seems as though this is a major step towards cleaning up the ocean, there’s still a long way to go.
A key point that’s been excluded from the discussion is the number of companies that dispose of hazardous waste into the environment. Believe or not, commercial fishing is largely responsible for most of the ocean’s most harmful waste. A recent report by World Animal Protection shows that around 700,000 tons of fishing gear is dropped into the ocean every year. This why you see so many videos going viral of whales and dolphins being trapped in nets. Because this equipment is specifically made to catch marine animals, it’s arguably more detrimental than our plastic bottles and straws.
There are several startups that have taken on the initiative to clean up the oceans. Many of them collect the plastics and trash and then use them to create different types of apparel and accessories. Regarding the fishing gear dilemma, Bureo is a startup that takes the nets polluted in the ocean and converts them into plastics to create commodities like sunglasses and skateboards. They launched ‘Net Positiva’ in Chile, which is a fishnet collection and recycling program. The company uses a machine to deconstruct the nets into pellets, which then allows them to further melt and create their products.
So while eliminating straws is a small step towards helping the environment, we can’t call it quits just yet. We have to hold those accountable who are dumping their waste into the ocean daily and, additionally, support the startups that are trying to make a difference.