The Last Straw

This Letter to the Editor appeared in the "Current" on May 21, written by our friend and 2018 EcoScience Fair Community Impact Award winner, Ahan Bhattacharyya. Ahan is a wonderful youth leader trying to cut down on plastic waste, a project near and dear to our hearts! 

by Ahan Bhattacharyya 

Hello! My name is Ahan Bhattacharyya, and I recently made a new petition. The petition is about getting McDonald’s to switch to biodegradable straws. I made it about two weeks ago on, and it already has 1,343 signatures.

I made it because of the effects plastic has on the environment. Plastic is almost constantly hurting us. When plastic is made, it releases carbon emissions into the air. When we throw it away with all of our compostable items, it creates methane. Even recycling causes carbon emissions. When it doesn’t go to landfills, it goes to the oceans. There, it enters the food chain and kills animals. Fish eat plastic, and we eat fish. Straws also get stuck up the noses of turtles and kills them. Turtles are already getting extinct. That is disgusting! NPR also reported that there are now particles of plastic in our salt. People all over the world are probably eating tiny pieces of plastic right now!

Ahan at our recent Eco Science Fair at the Indiana State Museum.

Ahan at our recent Eco Science Fair at the Indiana State Museum.

I targeted straws in general because they are probably the biggest way that we use plastic. We use 500 million plastic straws every single day. That adds up to more than 182 billion straws every single year. Also, in my opinion, most of the straws are unnecessary. We might need them while traveling but we shouldn’t use them at home and restaurants. Some people say that they use straws at a restaurant because of hygiene issues and don’t want to touch their lips to the glass. Well, if they are so worried about germs and not trusting the restaurant to clean the glasses, they shouldn’t even eat there because they are still drinking the water that is in that glass. So that argument is invalid. It means that they shouldn’t also trust the plates and spoons of that place. If needed, there are paper and compostable straws available. There are also stainless steel and glass straws that are reusable.

The petition was also a part of my Eco-Science Fair project. I used the petition along with other ways to cut down on straws usage in my presentation. I got second place in my age group and won first place for the community impact award.

I think that this petition is very important. McDonald’s gives out 12 percent of all the world’s straws. If McDonald’s can only use paper or other biodegradable straws, it can cut down on a lot of plastic straw usage, and that will help the environment.

I request readers to sign my petition:

Or you can search by typing “Hey McDonald’s please buy only biodegradable straws on help turtles from going extinct.”

Andy Fry