Since the launch of Shedd Aquarium’s #SheddTheStraw initiative last spring, businesses across Chicago have taken steps to eliminate their use of single-use plastic straws, including 160 local restaurants, the Chicago White Sox and Loews Chicago Hotels.
Now, one of Chicago’s biggest events of the year is getting involved.
Shedd announced Wednesday the Chicago Marathon will join the cause, asking all marathon hotel partners, restaurants and vendors to stop using disposable straws during race weekend next month – and potentially on a permanent basis. Participating businesses will serve straws only upon request and those will be compostable options, such as paper straws, according to Shedd.
The 2018 Chicago Marathon takes place Oct. 7 and is expected to attract about 40,000 participants and 1.7 million on-course spectators.
“Our partnership with Shedd Aquarium is an exciting next step in the growth of our sustainability program,” said Carey Pinkowski, executive race director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, in a statement. “It’s rewarding to see the enthusiasm our runners, volunteers and event partners have to make the marathon and their own communities as sustainable as possible.”
According to Shedd, Americans use more than 500 million straws every day, and straws are part of the 11 million pounds of plastic waste that enter Lake Michigan each year – the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Because plastics used in straws and other materials are not biodegradable, they simply break down into smaller pieces over time, posing a threat to wildlife that ingest the plastic or become entangled in it. Researchers estimate that 90 percent of seabirds and many whales and dolphins have ingested plastics, including straws, according to Shedd.
Scientists predict that without action, the amount of plastics in oceans will exceed the amount of fish, pound for pound, by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum.
For more information about the #SheddTheStraw campaign, visit Shedd’s website.