Little things make a big difference. 

Cliché? Yep. True? Absolutely.

As proof, let’s talk about something tiny and seemingly inconsequential: those little plastic straws. 

Here in sub-tropical Florida, there’s never a bad time for a cool drink—perhaps colorful, perhaps boozy. (In fact, the adage “It’s five o’clock somewhere” could actually be the state motto.) But do we really need an environmentally hazardous piece of plastic to deliver said cool drink to our mouth-holes? 

Straw pollution presents a large and ever-growing problem for coastal communities. According to The National Park Service, something like 500 million straws are used every single day in the U.S. alone, with an estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws currently sitting on–see: polluting–the world’s beaches. 

Overall, when we look at the daunting amount of plastic we’re depositing into the world’s oceans–something like eight million tons per year–it’s as clear as a translucent plastic straw that a crisis is impending.

Sad? Yes. Terrifying? Definitely. Defeating? It shouldn’t be. 

Those straws account for roughly 0.025% of the plastic ending up in the ocean each year. Eliminating them is a start. Ten municipalities throughout the state have already banned bars and restaurants from serving drinks with them. 

But we don’t have to wait for The Man to tell us to stop using them. Just stop. 

The artists working with Kids Mural Project at the Boys & Girls Club Citi Teen Center; Jarret walker, Sole Funk, Christopher Clark, Kaygo, Jasmine Aldershoff, Martin Torres, Julissa Adams, Biscuit, Tatiana Phoenix || Photo: Allan Pimenta

If you must sip through a straw, use a reusable one–metal, glass–or at least one that’s compostable. It’s estimated that 1.6 plastic straws per person are used each day. Individually deleting them from your life means nearly 600 less plastic straws get thrown away each year. That’s significant. That’s doing good.  

 

Speaking of doing good, this issue is packed full of people doing relatively small things that are likely to have a huge impact. Darby Moore reports on The Green Hands volunteers who pick up trash after live music events at St. Johns County music venues (“Throw Your Hands In the Air Like You Care”). I talked to the local artists who are dedicating their time and expertise, and serving as role models, to the kids at the new Citi Teen Center in Springfield (“Looks Like Teen Spirit”). Author Cash Lambert shares a story of surfers who, by simply pushing kids into waves, are helping those with autism (and their families) heal (“Waves of Healing”). 

Doing good doesn’t require millions of dollars, or an abundance of free time. The stories in this issue highlight initiatives that, measured by individuals involved or monetary contributions, are not massive efforts. They are all certain to reverberate, however. And the impact will be largely unquantifiable. 

If you want to do good, it’s pretty simple: start small. 

Cheers,
Matt