The last straw

Beyond the Curb


What would it take for you to want to change a habit? 

In an article in Time magazine, “How to Successfully Change Your Habits — And Make It Stick This Time,” writer Gretchen Rubin recognizes that clarity about what we really want is the main factor to push us to successfully make a change. To a certain degree, I have to agree with her.

After watching a video of a plastic straw being pulled out of a sea turtle nostril, I had the clarity I needed to want to make a change — a change that I can control and that I believe will make a difference: refuse to use plastic straws. 

I hadn’t realized it, but “Americans use a mind-boggling 500 million single-use straws a day, according to manufacturers,” reports Chris Clarke from KCET. So I took Ocean Conservancy’s The Last Straw Challenge and I am ready to do my share. 

For me, it is a change of habit and an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue to each one of the servers who tries to serve me drinks with a straw. I know that, like any type of change, this is going to be a process, but I also know that the process starts within us.

“Research by Professor Wendy Wood and colleagues shows that we repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily,” and if we start small, understand the trade-offs, and automate a wanted behavior, Christine Whelan declares in a Washington Post interview, we are more likely to stick to it. I am up for the challenge and I am sure others take on different small challenges that will make an impact, too.

Matt Steele is making a difference one bottle and one can at a time. <i>Photo by Marcia Booth</i>Matt Steele, owner of CrossFit Viera, is one of those. When he opened the gym at its new location on Schenck Avenue, he had no recycle bin for all the plastic bottles and cans discarded after each workout session. Aware of how many bottles and cans were being sent to the landfill, he brought in a nice blue bin and CrossFit members now have a place to recycle.

It doesn’t matter how big the challenge is, everyone and every action can make an impact.

I started refusing straws, Matt brought in a recycle bin, and Angela Haseltine Pozzi cleans up beaches and processes the debris into art supplies to construct giant sculptures of the sea life most affected by plastic pollution.

Pozzi is the lead artist of the Washed Ashore Project ( whose goal is “to educate and create awareness of ocean debris and plastic pollution and its effect on marine life species.”  The Brevard Zoo will host the project’s traveling exhibit from Nov. 8 through May 8, 2016 and it sounds like a very unique opportunity that no one should miss.

Unfortunately, what we often see is a big disconnect between what we do and the consequences of our actions. We need to close that gap.

This year, in an attempt to start making connections, we will be working toward a waste reduction campaign that I am calling Waste Me Not. We will combine action and reflection, charity and art to involve as many children, adults, organizations and businesses as possible. Look for information about that on and participate.

To me, all it took was a straw. What will it take you?