I have a suggestion which I hope local restaurants will take to heart. My family ate Sunday brunch today at one of my favorite locally-owned downtown Athens restaurants, and our iced teas were served with plastic straws already placed in them. Not using plastic straws is one of the easiest and simplest ways for people to reduce the astounding amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans.
As a restaurant patron, I usually politely decline a straw when it is offered to me (and don't even like them placed on the table still in their paper wrapping, as they often get wet or are likely to be thrown away even if I don't use them). But if the straw is already in my glass, I don't have the opportunity to refuse it.
I hope this letter will cause more people to think about the environmental impact that even the small choice of taking of a plastic straw can make, but I also appeal to the restaurant industry to take a stand and help people think about their choices. Only give out straws if patrons request one. Ask patrons if they want a bag before you give them one (especially if it's plastic and not paper). Supply patrons with paper disposable items rather than plastic or styrofoam ones.
Small, everyday choices can save sea turtles, dolphins and other ocean wildlife everyday. And all those small choices can easily snowball into large environmental impacts if we let them.