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Strawless Summer Continues With East End "Straws" Screenings

Olivia Rutigliano

In partnership with the Strawless Summer campaign, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Group for the East End (G4EE), and Surfrider Foundation will host several screenings of the documentary Straws.

The 30 minute film by Linda Booker aims to raise awareness of the impact of the single-use plastics, particularly straws, on the marine environment and its inhabitants and will be followed by a Q&A with all three organizations.

It is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used once and tossed in the United States every day. AMCS promotes marine conservation through action, which is achieved through education, research and response. Beach cleanups are one of their major programs and so far this year, the organization has removed more than 860 pounds of marine debris during 55 cleanups across Long Island.

"Collecting data on the debris removed from a beach is an important part of a beach cleanup," said Hannah Winslow, AMCS field biologist and education coordinator. "We know that marine debris harms the environment and the marine mammals and sea turtles that depend on that environment. What we need to understand is how to mitigate these interactions, and that requires an understanding of the marine debris prevalent in and around our waters."

Group for the East End outreach coordinator Jessica Kennelly noted, "Change starts with education. Without educating the public on the harmful effects that marine debris, including plastic straws, has on wildlife, it will continue to happen and worsen. We are able to bring awareness to the community and make a change to better the world."

Christine Tylee, Group for the East End program and stewardship coordinator, added, "'Protecting the nature of the place you love,' is Group for the East End's slogan. We have been advocating for the health of our environment since 1972, which means not only protecting and preserving open space and our bays and harbors, but also conserving our wildlife. We have seen the negative impacts of straws and other single-use plastics on animals and the environment, and are excited to be part of a movement to go strawless to further our mission."

Surfrider, the Eastern Long Island Chapter, has spearheaded this campaign. This winter in Greenport, the group conducted a beach cleanup and collected 922 straws from a single beach. "The ultimate goal of Strawless Summer is to reduce the amount of straws that are being used in Eastern Long Island," reflected Colleen Henn, Surfrider clean water coordinator/Eastern Long Island Chapter coordinator who heads up the Strawless Summer campaign. "We are trying to reach that goal by encouraging restaurants to switch to a more sustainable alternative, and also educating the public about the negative effects of plastic straws and other single-use plastics on the marine environment. This movement largely relies on word of mouth between volunteers, restaurants, local government, and community groups in order to reach as far as we can."

The film presentation schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 21 at the Shelter Island Library at 7 p.m.
Monday, June 25 at the Cutchogue Library at 6 p.m.
Thursday, June 28 at the Hamptons Bays Library at 7 p.m. (includes a lecture by AMCS - Marine Debris in Our Marine Environment)
Thursday, July 5 at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue at 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 19 at Greenport Cinema at 4 p.m.

"Knowing how prevalent and detrimental straws are in our marine environment allows us to facilitate solutions by bringing awareness and doing what we can to stop the demand for plastic, single-use straws," Winslow added.

For more information about Strawless Summer, visit easternli.surfrider.org.

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