#Save the sea turtles-but are we really?


There were noticeable trends in regards to who answered yes or no

Alex Plaskon, Staff Writer

#Save the sea turtles. #No more plastic straws. #Metal straws. Nowadays, it seems we can only convey an important message if it has a “hashtag” attached to it. Lately, especially in teen culture, plastic straw usage is becoming a taboo-often looked down upon by our peers who want to “#Save the sea turtles” by boycotting the usage of plastic straws. As a native Florida (and someone who loves environmental conservation), I was intrigued to see if the majority of teens at East Lake High are actually are forgoing the plastic straw in order to help the environment. In order to do this, I went to 3rd period classrooms and asked a simple yes or no question: “Are teens boycotting plastic straws in order to help the environment”? Based off this, I gathered data to see if the majority actually are giving up their plastic straws, like I hypothesized. In total, 618 students participated in the survey.

Out of the 618 participants, 366 said yes, while 252 said no. I noticed some trends that often determined who would answer yes or no. First off, upperclassmen tended to say no more than underclassmen. They also were more willing to debate my question instead of giving a straight answer (unlike the underclassmen). For example, upperclassmen wondered if boycotting plastic straws would really help the environment. In other words, they felt that as an individual, giving up plastic straws just wouldn’t make an impact. Along with this, while dealing with underclassmen, students who answered no were often looked down upon by their classmates. VSCO Girls almost always answered yes, while holding up their Hydroflasks and metal straws as I walked by them (part of the VSCO Girl trend includes giving up plastic straws in favor of metal straws or metal water bottles.) Lastly, in order for some students to comprehend my question, I had to specifically state “#Save the sea turtles” so they would understand the purpose of my survey.

So, despite the fact that nearly 60% of students who participated in this survey said yes, they would give up their plastic straws, do these numbers really indicate that teens are #Saving the sea turtles? I don’t believe so. It seems like giving up straws is more of a trend than real environmental concern. Regardless, I’m glad this survey helped start the conversation for more environmental awareness.