Straw Invasion

How many straws can you find on the beach in 10 min?


Last week, after 2 days of rain, I decided to check out what washed up on the beach. While casually roaming around, taking pictures, I timed myself to see how many straws I could easily spot and pick up. I didn't have to look hard. Ten minutes later I had more then I could carry in my hands.

Where do they come from? Some of them are left by beachgoers, but more significantly they are part of a flow of litter that comes from our city streets and dumpsites, which ends up being washed into gutters that spill into our streams. These straws could have been dumped by careless beachgoers or they could have come from the middle of downtown or far inland. They last forever, they float and they make their way into the ocean, eventually.

The source of ocean plastic pollution is "Everywhere". It is not an issue that only belongs to beach communities. They are simply the ones noticing it more.

I repeated my little challenge later that day on the side of Ballona Creek, just 200 yards upstream from the ocean. This time it only took me 3 minutes to collect this bunch of straws.

Notice the predominant colors? What does that tell us about the source of the straws?

Notice the predominant colors? What does that tell us about the source of the straws?


 The section of the river I was crawling around in is right next to the protected wetlands area. The amount of garbage is staggering! Wildlife here lives in an environment that looks more like plastic hell than a river. What struck me most is the fact that the scene I was seeing was not from some poor, 3rd World country that had no infrastructure or money. This is Westside LA, where some of the most expensive real estate borders these rivers and beaches! Sure, the issue is not caused by any one community in particular, but I couldn't stop thinking that if ANY place can tackle this issue, it would be this city that overflows with money, creativity and innovation!