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June 8, 2021

One Small Sip to Protect Our Oceans and Our Health

The impact of ocean pollution on marine life is easy to see. What hasn’t been quite so clear is how this pollution affects human health. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health is changing that, showing that ocean health and human health are “intricately linked.”

While polluted oceans can directly impact our health, in that swimming in contaminated areas can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal issues and coastal populations may be affected by the build-up of contaminants, there are indirect impacts as well. Consuming contaminated fish can be dangerous, for example, while overfishing or lack of marine life can be financially devastating for fishing communities. Marine extracts that may be used in developing medical treatments can be negatively impacted, and ocean pollution can even affect our mental health.

Since preventing this pollution is a much more effective solution than treating it after the fact, various industries and disciplines are collaborating to combat the issue. However, we can all take small, everyday steps, whether it’s cleaning up local streets, relying less on personal vehicles, recycling, or reducing plastic consumption.

Plastics are an important issue, as at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and traditional fossil fuel based plastic notoriously does not decompose. Rain and winds and streams and storm drains push this plastic litter such as bottle caps, single-use bags, food wrappers, and drinking straws into the sea.

Fortunately, WinCup has created a new drinking straw that uses a bio polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) which is derived from canola oil and yet looks and feels like traditional plastic.  Because PHA is made in nature, it can be consumed by bacteria.  WinCup’s phade® brand of straws is made with PHA, so it can biodegrade in marine environments in a matter of months.  In addition, it is both home and industrial compostable.  While the first step is to reduce litter, if a phade straw does end up in the ocean, it will decompose organically and leave no microplastics. 

Let’s all do a better job in protecting our oceans, for marine life and for ourselves. With phade, the road to making a huge impact starts with a single sip.