Americans Use 500 Million Straws Every Day. Would You Pledge to Go Strawless?

Most disposable straws are made from a petroleum-based plastic and can end up harming wildlife when discarded. In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

You bring your own cup to the coffee shop to save a tree or two. Then you decline a receipt to save a few more trees. But when you get your coffee, you jam two plastic straws in your cup, take two sips and toss the straws as soon as the drink has cooled enough to gulp. Admit it: You still have some work to do when it comes to living sustainably.

OneLessStraw could help with that. In October 2016, the nonprofit One More Generation started the campaign, which asks everyone — especially young people, schools and businesses — to pledge to stop using plastic straws for 30 days.


The hazards of plastic on the environment are well-known. We dump 8 million tons of plastic into the ocean every year, and plastic contaminates water and land when it breaks down. Tossed disposable straws, which are typically made of the petroleum-based plastic polypropylene, can pollute ecosystems and harm wildlife. Yet the nonprofit Eco-Cycle estimates that people in the United States use 500 million plastic straws each day. Since many recycling programs don't accept them and people usually don't reuse them, straws often head straight to landfills and seas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration even cites plastic straws as one of the more commonly found pollutants in the oceans.

Many organizations, from Eco-Cycle to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, have raised awareness about the environmental harm of using of plastic straws. But in addition to encouraging people to go strawless, OneLessStraw asks people to pay a charitable fee whenever they use or accept a straw.

And there are alternatives to the plastic straw: OneLessStraw offers to send a reusable glass straw when you take the pledge, making the commitment that much easier.