It's just a little bit of plastic, right? But those small straws add up: We use more than 500 million plastic straws each day. Straws are too small to be easily recycled. So they become trash—often in the ocean. In fact, plastic straws are one of the top polluters on our beaches and can be harmful to animals. Many straws are made from polystyrene, the same plastic that makes expanded polystyrene foam—better known as "Styrofoam"—which we're targeting with our Nix the 6 campaign.

5 Gyres has historically supported efforts to help change this reality—in 2017 we partnered with The Lonely Whale Foundation on Strawless Ocean, an initiative that harnesses celebrity power to encourage everyone to #stopsucking. Meanwhile, the thing to remember about plastic straws is this: You can refuse them. It’s simple: Pledge to go #plasticfree  and when you order a drink say, “Without a straw, please!" Or, simply bring your own!

We're so proud of our Executive Director Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, who shared information on straws and other plastic polluters on the TEDxSantaBarbara stage in 2017. We hope her story will inspire you to take the #plasticfree pledge!


Here are five more #plasticfree actions you can take today:

  • Ask servers and restaurant owners to switch to a “straws on request” policy, rather than dropping off straws when they’re not asked for. (This is a great money saver, too!)
  • If you need a straw, bring your own biodegradable paper* or bamboo straws or reusable metal or glass versions.
  • Start a conversation about plastic straws by stashing a 5 Gyres coaster in your pocket or purse, and using it to talk with servers and restaurant owners about their environmental impact.
  •  Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on the fight against plastic straws!
  • Check out our Plastic Free Shopping Guide for options on how to live without single-use plastics.

*Yes, we know paper comes from trees. But using paper straws represents a far lower environmental impact than plastic.