The Last Straw

Single-use plastics, such as drinking straws, are entering our oceans at an enormous rate. The United States alone contributes 500 million straws daily to this plastic wasteland. That’s enough straws to wrap around the earth 2.5 times a day. 

As we are all part of the problem, every one of us can make a difference. Make a pledge today to reduce your use of single-use plastics and refuse plastic drinking straws. 



    • More on the Last Straw

      In keeping with our mission to protect the oceans through science and advocacy, The Last Straw is our conservation campaign to raise awareness about single-use plastics, focusing primarily on plastic drinking straws. 

      Straws are one of the most common marine debris items found during beach cleanups on Maui and around the world. Used only once and then discarded, plastic straws pollute our oceans and kill and/or injure marine wildlife. 

      Plastic (in straws and other products) never truly biodegrades; it just breaks up into smaller pieces called microplastics[MD1] . In fact, every piece of plastic ever created still exists today. 

      We can all take action to turn the tide on plastic pollution. Start by refusing a straw. Whether at your favorite café, restaurant or bar – let them know “No straw, thank you!” and tell them why. Ask them politely, to ban plastic straws or at least dispense them only upon request. 

      For those who need or want to use straws, more non-plastic alternatives than ever are available in stores and online, including straws made from paper, stainless steel, glass and bamboo. 

      Pacific Whale Foundation stopped using straws on our PacWhale ecotour vessels in 2015. Our Maui locations and online Ocean Store carry a range of reusable straws, as well as other high quality, eco-friendly products. We also are currently working on a long-term solution to replace or process our compostable plastic cups. For more information on our environmental commitment, click here. 

    • Facts & Figures


      • 500 million straws a day are used in the United States alone – enough straws to wrap around the earth 2.5 times or fill 125 school buses every day (International Coastal Cleanup Report, Ocean Conservancy, 2017).
      • Over 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year (Jambeck et al., 2015).
      • By the year 2050, scientists project the oceans will contain more plastic than fish (MacArthur et al., 2016).
      • 90% of seabirds (Wilcox et al., 2015) and 30% of sea turtles (Schuyler et al., 2013) have been found with plastics in their stomachs. 86% of all turtle species are affected by plastics (Schuyler et al., 2013). 
      • 80-90% of the world’s marine debris is made from plastic. There is no way to safely remove the vast majority of the plastic already in the ocean (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection, 2015).
      • Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items picked up during beach clean-ups worldwide. In the last 25 years, over 6 million straws have been removed during annual U.S. beach clean-ups (International Coastal Cleanup Report, Ocean Conservancy, 2017).
      • Chemicals from plastics can be harmful to our health. Plastics contain known carcinogens and endocrine disrupters that cause direct toxicity, even leaching from plastic containers to food (Stover et al., 1996).
      • Packaging and containers account for 23% of the waste in America or 39 million tons per year. Less than 14% of plastic packaging actually gets recycled (Environmental Protection Agency, 2010).
      • Only certain types of plastic can be recycled, and only a certain number of times before being discarded into the environment.  (Stover et al., 2010).
      • Specific conditions must be present, such as the appropriate oxygen, light and pressure as executed by an industrial composting facility, in order to break down even “biodegradable” or compostable plastics. Plastic does not biodegrade in a landfill, and not all states and not all countries have industrial composting facilities, so even “biodegradable” plastics are discarded like regular trash (United Nations Environment Programme, 2015). 


      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2010. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010. United States Environmental Protection Agency Solid Waste and Emergency Response Report, Washington, DC. 12 p.

      Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), 2015. “Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: a global assessment” (Kershaw, P. J., ed.). (IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP /UNDP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection). Reports and Studies. GESAMP No. 90, 96 p.

      Jambeck, J.R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T.R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R. and Law, K.L., 2015. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223), pp.768-771.

      MacArthur, D.M, D. Waughray, and M. Stuchtey, 2016. The New Plastics Economy Rethinking the future of plastics. 2016. World Economic Forum. 34 p.

      Ocean Conservancy, 2017. International coastal cleanup report 2017. 24 p. 

      Schuyler, Q., Hardesty, B.D., Wilcox, C. and Townsend, K., 2014. Global analysis of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles. Conservation biology, 28(1), pp. 129-139.

      Stover, R.L., Evans, K., and Pickett, K. 1996. Report of the Berkeley plastic task force. Ecology Center Plastic Task Force, Berkeley, CA. 48 p.

      United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2015. Biodegradable Plastics and Marine Litter. Misconceptions, concerns and impacts on marine environments. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi. 33 p.

      Wilcox, C., Van Sebille, E. and Hardesty, B.D., 2015. Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(38), pp.11899-11904.

    • What You Can Do

      You can help keep plastic straws and other single-use plastics out of the ocean by taking the following actions: 

      REDUCE the amount of single-use plastic in your household and make more eco-friendly choices.

      REFUSE to use plastic straws and ask your local restaurants and businesses to ban plastic straws or dispense them only upon request.

      USE ALTERNATIVES to plastic straws such as paper, stainless steel, glass and bamboo – and encourage others to do the same.

      REUSE plastic products whenever possible.

      RECYCLE plastic products whenever possible.

      PLEDGE to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics by signing our online form.

      SHARE your commitment and stories of pollution solutions with #ReuseOrRefuse.


      Click here to spread the word to your Facebook friends.
      Add the custom ‘Reuse or Refuse’ photo frame to your Facebook profile or other photos.
      Get a reusable bamboo straw and set of utensils when you make a donation to Pacific Whale Foundation’s Research, Education and Conservation programs. You can also get reusable straws from our Maui Ocean Store locations or online Ocean Store.
      Wear our exclusive, custom-designed Refuse or Reuse t-shirt and look awesome while sharing this important conservation message. Available in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. Click here to purchase.
      Join us on a beach cleanup or do one on your own to help keep plastic straws and other marine debris off our beaches and out of the ocean.

    • Resource Kit

    • More Resources


      Ocean Store

      Aardvark Straws (paper)

      Eco-Tribe (bamboo)

      The Last Straw (stainless steel)

      RawNori (stainless steel)


      Challenge your friends and followers on social media through this collaborative campaign by Lonely Whale Foundation.

      Video: ‘A Plastic Ocean’ film trailer

      Video: Sea Turtle with Straw Up Its Nostril

      WARNING! Contains graphic content


      By Request Only

      Adopt a “straw upon request” policy to only offer straws when customers ask for them.

      Paper Straw Analysis

      Check out this easy to use template that helps restaurants and other businesses analyze the costs and benefits of switching from plastic to paper straws.


      Show your commitment to the environment by switching from plastic to bio-degradable eco-friendly paper straws. We recommend Aardvark Straws. Share your success on social media using #RefuseOrReuse

      Become an ‘Ocean Friendly Restaurant’

      A Surfrider Foundation program recognizing restaurants that reduce plastic waste and implement ocean-friendly practices.

    • Business Partners

      Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa 2605 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
      Cool Cat Cafe 658 Front St #160, Lahaina, HI 96761
      Down The Hatch 658 Front St #102, Lahaina, HI 96761
      Maui Ocean Center 192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793
      Milagro’s 3 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779
      Nalu’s 1280 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
      Charley’s Restaraunt and Saloon 142 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779
      Best Western Pioneer Inn 658 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
      SURFSIDE WOODFIRE PIZZA KITCHEN 505 Front St #101, Lahaina, HI 96761
      THE MILL HOUSE 1670 Honoapiilani Hwy #1, Wailuku, HI 96793
      MAUI BREWING CO. 605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, Maui, HI 96753
      MAUI TACOS Various locations including: 275 W Kaahumanu Ave # Fc1, Kahului, HI 96732
      Three’s Bar and Grill 1945 South Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
      Fork and Salad 120 Ho’okele St, Kahului, HI, 96732 AND 1279 S Kihei Rd #204, Kihei, HI 96753
      Duke’s Beach House 130 Kai Malina Pkwy, Kaanapali, HI 96761
      Paia Bay Coffee 115 Hana Hwy Unit G, Paia, HI 96779
      Burger Shack 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr, Lahaina, HI 96761
      MonkeyPod Kitchen 10 Wailea Gateway Pl, Kihei, HI 96753 AND 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761
      Café O’Lei Restaurants At the Dunes: 1333 Maui Lani Pkwy, Kahului, HI 96732 and 2439 South Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
      ‘Ami ‘Ami 2259 South Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
      Kamaole Poolside Café Maui Coast Hotel Poolside, 2259 South Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753
      BELLE SURF CAFE 1794 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI 96753 and 640 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
      FLEETWOOD’S ON FRONT STREET 744 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
      MOKU ROOTS 335 Keawe St #211, Lahaina, HI 96761
      SIP ME 3617 Baldwin Ave, Makawao, HI 96768
      BREKKIE BOWLS 300 Ohukai Rd B1-101, Kihei, HI 96753
      Tante’s Fishmarket Restaurant & Bar  300 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793
       Bubba Gump Shrimp Co 889 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761
      Choice Health Bar 1087 Limahana Pl 1A, Lahaina, HI 96761 AND  11 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779 AND 2435 Ka’anapali Pkwy, Lahaina 96761

    Hawaii Visitor Update

    Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.