The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town is calling on all South Africans to put down their drinking straws because we are facing a "catastrawphe", and something must be done to save our seas.
The aquarium says that hundreds of billions of plastic straws are used globally, damaging ecosystems, killing wildlife and contributing to the pollution of our atmosphere. That's why all food kiosks inside the Two Oceans Aquarium are now using plastic-free, PLA drinking straws and packaging.
While these look and feel like regular straws, they will break down if disposed of in a correctly functioning compost heap, the Aquarium says.
The aquarium's decision to axe plastic straws* has made other major retailers follow suit, with powerful food chain Ocean Basket announcing on Twitter this week that they too would no longer be using straws in their stores.
Thank you for supporting our campaign to eliminate plastic drinking straws & take-away bags in our Ocean Basket-restaurants to help save our seas. We're currently rolling out phase 1 & due to the scale of the project have only implemented the policy in some of our restaurants. pic.twitter.com/d7HwIVMu0n— Ocean Basket (@TheOceanBasket) January 11, 2018
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at current rates of pollution, there will likely be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.
In December 2017 South Africa joined the other 193 U.N. countries and signed a resolution to help eliminate marine litter and microplastics in the sea.
Once in the ocean, plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade, all the while breaking down into smaller and smaller "microplastics" – which can be consumed by marine animals and find their way into the human food chain.
Checkout the Two Oceans Straws Suck campaign for some tips on how you can eliminate straws from your life.
*This article has been modified from an earlier version which stated Two Oceans Aquarium had axed straws entirely when they are now instead using plastic-free straws at their kiosks. We apologise for the error.