Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve definitely heard about the no–straw movement. To be honest, I was a little hesitant when I first heard about it. It may sound dumb, but I like straws. However, after learning more about the positive impact I could make, it became a no brainer.

If the US stopped using straws for one day alone, there would be 500 million less straws with the potential of entering our oceans. Straws take over 200 years to decompose, so they break up into small pieces that end up being ingested by animals. Plastics cause the death of over one million seabirds and 100,000 aquatic animals each year. The plastics consumed by the animals can also enter the human food chain. Are you convinced yet?

Many cities and states, including New York City, Hawaii, and California, have passed legislation to ban straws. Although Pennsylvania isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean Philly hasn’t been taking steps to make a difference. It’s actually incredibly easy to be straw–free in Philly.

I use straws the most when I drink coffee, which is admittedly many times throughout the day. Thankfully, coffee shops around the country and right on Penn’s campus have been making a change.

Perhaps the most notable shift was when Starbucks announced that by 2020 they would eliminate straws at their roughly 27,300 locations and instead introduce sippy cups for their cold drinks. I must say that I enjoyed drinking my coffee from a sippy cup, and didn’t miss my straw at all.

United By Blue has also been committed to the #StopSucking movement through their partnership with Lonely Whale. They even pledged to remove one pound of ocean trash with every purchase.

There’s a whole list of Philly eateries that have taken the first step to eliminate straws. London Grill in Fairmount became straw–free after the owner saw a viral video of a plastic straw stuck in a turtle’s nose. Many other places offer compostable straws, like Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia Brewing Co., and Peddler Coffee.

But even if a restaurant or coffee shop offers regular straws, it’s simple to just ask for no straw when you order your drinks. Recently, I ordered a collapsible straw that I put on my keychain. It’s the same size as my key, and no one would even know that it has a utensil inside.

Even though straws are getting a lot of attention, it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not the only type of harmful waste. Some outlets claim that straws have a minimal impact compared to other plastics. 

But still, avoiding straws is perhaps the simplest way to be more waste conscious without having to go entirely wastefree. One less plastic straw used is one less opportunity for it to be ingested by an animal, and eventually by you.

So next time you’re at a restaurant, or grabbing your morning coffee, just say no. The ocean will thank you.