Frequently Asked Questions
LA Sucks is an initiative to promote awareness around plastic straw waste and to ultimately reduce plastic pollution and marine debris.
Beverage-related items account for roughly 40% of the trash in our environment. Straws are one of the most common items Heal the Bay finds during cleanups in L.A. County. All that trash is not only gross, it’s extremely harmful to marine life.
Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times! Most go to landfills, some are incinerated and the rest end up polluting the environment. In the past 15 years, our volunteers alone have removed nearly 100,000 straws from local beaches and watersheds.
By 2050, it’s estimated that there will be more plastic in the sea by mass than fish. Plastic pollution finds its way into the sea from littering, urban runoff and wind currents. All this trash isn’t just gross, it’s dangerous. Marine mammals, fish and birds often ingest plastic items, mistaking them for food. This undigestible trash accumulates in their gullet, and as a result the animals can’t digest real food properly and often die.
We are asking people to think about how their daily habits can harm our natural places. We want people to skip the plastic straws and start sipping. Or at least use a reusable straw.
Most drinking straws are made from a variety of plastics, some of which are more readily recyclable than others. Current trends tell us that your plastic straws most likely won’t end up in recycling bins. After all, in the United States only 9% of post-consumer plastic was recycled in 2012.
We believe that our biggest environmental challenges can be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. Skipping the straw is an easy task that most people can do to make a difference. Plus, it can spark other positive changes in our everyday lifestyle choices.
We love that you’re already thinking about alternatives. Here are a few we recommend:
- Reusable glass
- Reusable stainless steel
- Biodegradable paper
- Biodegradable bamboo
It’s important to note that although they sound sustainable, bioplastics are not a good alternative. Bioplastics may have benefits in the durable product world; however, they pose another set of issues for single-use products. They do not degrade in aquatic environments and require industrial composting facilities to break down, which we don’t currently have as part of the waste management infrastructure in greater L.A.
Eco-minded restaurants are already doing the right thing. Places like Pono Burger in Santa Monica have ditched plastic straws and offer up better alternatives to customers, and many more have taken the pledge to go “straws upon request.” It’s smart for businesses and it directly helps the environment at the same time.