Commentary: Naperville Climate Strike

Niko Black, Correspondent

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Sksksksksksks, and I oop! Save the turtles!

Every year, the US generates over 40 million tons of plastic. According to Ocean Crusaders, plastic accounts for 100,000 plus marine animal deaths. 

In recent years, environmental groups have focused their attention on plastics, especially in straws and cups, which float in the oceans in the billions. 

With growing public outcry, big name companies such as Marriott and Starbucks have pledged to phase out plastic drinking items from their locations. They estimate that doing so will remove over a billion of these plastics from landfills per year. 

A research competition, the NextGen Consortium, founded by Starbucks and McDonald’s, offered those with the best plastic cup and straw alternatives a portion of a million dollars for research and development. 

The winners had designs ranging from single use, fully degradable cups to a cup sharing system similar to bike shares.

But is this enough? Should we instead be focusing on ending consumer dependency on plastic?

Though straws and cups don’t amount to the majority of pollution, this is a step in the right direction. To phase out all plastic is impossible at the moment. Starting out with recyclable daily-use items will slowly ease us off plastics. 

 I find it quite encouraging to see big businesses putting money behind environmental solutions. I have always held the opinion that corporations could care less for public health, but I am finding hope in this new movement. 

I am also hoping the efforts by the Consortium and other groups drives the plastic industry to produce biodegradable products. If the major producers shift their focus to this, billions of tons of waste could potentially be returned to the environment in a safe way.

What we can do now is try to amend our personal choices. Getting a cold brew at Dunkin’, don’t grab a straw. Buy a metal straw and bring it with.

And don’t forget to vote! Make your opinion heard!