Bell High School

Opinion: Away with straws!

See? No straw required! Photo by: Alejandra Martinez (11M)

Imagine having a long plastic straw lodged into your nostril. Now imagine having to gasp for air while swimming with it. This was the case of an Olive Ridley Sea Turtle found in the oceans of Costa Rica by Christine Figgener, a sea turtle expert at Texas A&M University. Along with a couple of her colleagues, Figgener had to pull the straw out of the turtle’s nose, causing it a lot of pain and discomfort.

About 175 billion plastic straws a year, although seemingly harmless, filter through our landfills and litter our oceans, affecting our environment and its animals.

According to Bell High School cafeteria manager Mr. Dart, about 650,000 meals were distributed to students on a daily basis throughout the district during the 2014-2015 school year. With every meal comes a “sporkette” package, which includes a straw. Altogether, that adds up to a lot of plastic!

It is in LAUSD’s best interest to get rid of these straws completely.

Started over 20 years ago, the “sporkette” package (complete with a napkin, spork, and straw) was produced as a cheaper alternative to whole recycling. However, LAUSD can save money by removing the production of straws entirely less money will be spent in the first place, less plastic will be made from scratch, and less plastic will end up in landfills and oceans.

Plastic straws are a matter of habit. How absolutely necessary are these straws?

“I forget there’s a straw in there,” said Raul Martinez. “I never even use it.”

Many students disregard the straws, just opening the entire package for the spork or the napkin, forcing them to waste the plastic.

Sometimes, students use the straws to pry their milk open, and then continue to drink from it. But how hard is it to simply pick up the milk carton and drink from there? Using straws promotes a lazy habit.

Although it can be argued that using straws can prevent the spread of germs, is there really any difference between using a factory-made piece of plastic and a factory made piece of carton? Think about it.

Despite recent efforts to “be green,” LAUSD can be more conscience toward the environment.

Cutting down the size of the straw and making them 30 percent recyclable does not prevent them from harming the Earth. The ongoing cycle of toxins being released when they are made and the harmful effects they have when they are disposed needs to be eliminated.

Smaller and cheaper, these straws have also been made biodegradable. This means that the straws will eventually break down. Yet, this plastic takes about 30 years to decompose. Yes, these straws break down, but they do so very, very slowly. In the time they break down, they reside in never-ending landfills, while some end up littering oceans.

Students need to stand up against the unnecessary use of straws. When asked if he would consider getting rid of the straws completely, cafeteria manager Mr. Dart said, “Until a demand for that, I wouldn’t.” So, if students want to make a change, they must stand up and demand it.