Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's wrong with this picture?

Earlier this year we treated ourselves to a quick holiday (too short, but that's another story) in Cuba. I spent a lot of time strolling along the beach. Initially, my beachwalks were of the standard variety, keeping an eye out for shells or pretty rocks. But it didn't take long for me to decide there were far too many rainbow straws littering the beach.

Because one of my daily practices is picking up a piece of litter, it was easy to bend and pick up the first pink plastic straw that greeted me. But I soon found these littered straws were in abundance. And these were just the ones still on the beach. How many others had made their way out to sea?

In a place where plenty of drinks are being served, practically 24//7, I understand that hygiene is important -- thus, straws are inserted into just about every glass (even the plastic 'glasses') the bartenders hand out. I suppose the colourful straws also present some aesthetic appeal, and no doubt are cheaper than tiny umbrellas would be.

But, the abundance of these plastic straws along the shoreline got me worried about how much ocean contamination they were causing.

The pipe coral in my photo was washed up on shore, yes. And I'll admit to inserting some of the straws I'd picked up into the hollow tubes. I hope the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made helps make a point -- a point I first heard about from an action in Tofino called 'Straws Suck.'

Plastic doesn't break down well, not even in the sea. Where tourism in Tofino is all about nature and the ocean, folks there take their stewardship seriously. The Straws Suck campaign is simple: avoid straws if you can, but if you need to use straws, use paper ones instead. Something to think about next time you're sucking up a drink.

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