For many years Hilton Head Island has walked a fine line between developing the island and preserving the natural beauty and ecosystem that it depends upon. In a strong effort to balance those scales the “Strawless Summer” campaign has taken over the Island sparking conversations on conservation and the responsibilities of the locals, tourists, and businesses alike. Let’s dive into the impact, the alternatives, and what businesses are participating in the campaign to end plastic waste in our oceans.
By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Hilton Head Island loves its Sea Turtles, Dolphins, and Horseshoe Crabs! They are staple wildlife figures of the Lowcountry and create economic and environmental impacts that are impossible to quantify. As a coastal town we cannot ignore the fact that our behaviors impact the local environment. As of January 2018 the Hilton Head Town Council passed a new town ordinance to ban plastic bags on the Island. The end of straw use in a natural progression and one that is picking up momentum.
The straw itself does not hold the largest percentage of plastic trash in the ocean but it is often the most detrimental. The shape, weight, and size of the straw creates issues with both wildlife consumption and injury. It is not uncommon for conservation to find straws in animals noses and other orifices as well as sitting undigested in their stomachs. For an eye-opening video of the impact of straws on our wildlife you can watch a viral video from 2015 of a straw being removed from the nose of a sea turtle. The video is both heart breaking and graphic but it is the single most relevant example of the true impact of straws in our oceans.
Dump Plastic – Use Alternatives
While you can still request a straw at many locations on Hilton Head Island this summer there are alternatives that you can bring with you and use at home.
Naturally Degradable Straws are straws that are easily broken down in the environment in the event that they do end up somewhere outside of a garbage disposal facility. Examples of these straws include bamboo straws, natural grain straws, seaweed-based straws, and renewable and natural resource based straws. There are plenty of options out there all of which can easily be ordered online.
Glass Straws are not only eco-friendly, they are also cost-effective. While the naturally degradable straws will be used once and tossed aside, the glass straws are reusable and sustainable. Many companies boast a lifetime guarantee of their glass straws in an effort to create a long-lasting impact on the environment.
Metal Straws come in several varieties including titanium and stainless steel. In addition to putting some style in your cup, the metal straw also keeps your drinks cold and does not run the risk of degrading or breaking.
Hilton Head Island Businesses Participating
There are over 70 businesses and restaurants participating in the “Strawless Summer” campaign this year! Below is a map of those businesses as reported by Palmetto Ocean Conservancy the leader of the Island “Strawless Summer” campaign.