Sucking it up to ban plastic straws

COURTESY PHOTO

COURTESY PHOTO

“If the world continues to produce and discard plastic straws at its current frenzied pace, it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, pound for pound, by 2050.”

That’s the message the Group for the East End will bring to Shelter Island students in grades six through 12 next Tuesday, October 9, during an 8:45 a.m. assembly. The meeting will launch a program to replace plastic straws with paper and give each student a reusable stainless steel straw with a cleaning brush.

The program features a 32-minute documentary, followed by a question-and-answer period with Kristina Lange of  the Group for the East End.

Superintendent Christine Finn will join student representatives in taking a pledge to use alternatives to plastic straws.

The Group for the East End is contributing 4,800 paper straws to the school cafeteria while turning the supply of plastic straws over to art teacher Stephanie Sareyani to be put to use in creative projects.

In a flyer boosting the program, the Group for the East End provided statistics:
• An estimated 5 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the United States.
• During a single beach cleanup in Greenport this year, 922 plastic straws were collected.
• An estimated 50 percent of sea turtles worldwide have consumed plastic.
• 800 million metric tons of plastic are being dumped into oceans each year.

Plastic straws can’t be recycled and most end up in the ocean, where they break down into smaller pieces over time and are consumed by marine life ranging from zooplankton to whales, according to the Group for the East End.

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