Skip the Straw You Don’t Need

From plastic bags to toothbrushes, flip-flops to ballpoint pens, plastics are part of our everyday lives. It’s the throwaway nature of many plastic items that is wreaking havoc on natural ecosystems. But the solution is in our hands.

Plastic grocery bags and drinking straws, for example, are only in our hands for a moment. But for the animals who live in rivers, lakes, harbors, and the ocean, our plastic pollution piles up and can last forever.

The New England Aquarium is joining with more than 20 other aquariums across the country because there are simple actions we can all take in a stand against single-use plastics. The nationwide campaign, called the First Step, offers suggestions on how we can make a difference—individually and as a nationwide community that cares about our blue planet.


Be Part of the Movement

Take the first step to reducing single-use plastics. Join others across the country in pledging to skip the straws you don’t need. Ask your favorite restaurant to only offer straws on request. Invite your friends to take their first step. Every tiny change is a step in the right direction.

Make your last straw the first step to plastic-free waters. 


first step logo and penguins diving

Plastics In the Ocean

Almost 9 million U.S. tons of plastic enters the ocean from land every year. At the current rate, the volume of plastic—including vast amounts of consumer products and packaging—is expected to double by 2025. 

Turtle Ecologist Dr. Kara Dodge with our Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life discusses plastic pollution in our oceans and the consequences on endangered leatherback sea turtles.

leatherback sea turtle
Feeding leatherback turtle at surface | Photo credit: Kara Dodge, NMFS Permit #15672.

Reducing Plastics at the Aquarium

We’ve worked to eliminate all single-use plastics in favor of recyclable, compostable, or reusable materials in our Harbor View Café. Paper straws and compostable cup lids are now available only upon request. Bottled water now comes in single-use aluminum bottles that are recyclable, or you can purchase a reusable Aquarium water bottle to use at one of our refill stations and then take everywhere.  By making thoughtful choices and working together, we can reduce plastic pollution. 

bag ban logo

Reducing Plastic Litter in Boston

We’re not the only ones taking the issue of plastic pollution seriously. The City of Boston is banning carryout plastic bags beginning on December 14, 2018. The ban applies to plastic bags with handles that shoppers might receive at checkout—think: plastic grocery bags. Produce bags, newspaper bags, and garbage bags are not subject to the ban. The city says its goal is to reduce litter, protect ocean environments and waterways from pollution, reduce greenhouse gasses, and reduce solid waste in the waste stream. Bravo!