#SaveTheTurtles: From A Hashtag To A Movement

BY KARI HAAVERSEN kari.haaversen@go.mnstate.edu

What started as a hashtag has become an international movement, one that our environment will thank forever.

Many people have heard the term #SaveTheTurtles, but what is the movement behind this simple hashtag? Plastic straws have been found in the nostrils of sea turtles, causing them serious health problems and raising the issue of what humans’ use of plastic straws is doing to the environment. #SaveTheTurtles started a movement toward using reusable straws instead of the typical single-use straws. While it started simply with reusable straws, the movement has grown into the popular trend of using many eco-friendly products. So, what are these products and who is using them?

An Instagram post promoting reusable straws using the “save the turtles” theme.

The Trend and Its Audience

Ashfeld with her reusable cup in between classes.

Camille Ashfeld, an MSUM senior, has been using environmentally-friendly products for awhile.

“I’ve always used reusable items, but lately I’ve been using a lot more,” she said. “I actually have a lot of different products that I bring with me everywhere.”

Ashfeld shared that while buying these items may seem expensive at first, they save her money in the long run.

“I use reusable straws, Tupperware instead of single-use plastic baggies, a make-up sponge instead of disposable makeup wipes, reusable water bottles and canvas bags for groceries,” she said. “I would rather buy something I’m going to use for years than something I’m going to use once and throw away. Plus, a lot of places will actually give you a discount if you bring in your own grocery bags, so that gives me an incentive to always remember them.”

Fit Republic promoting reusable cups
on social media

Ashfeld has noticed a spike in popularity with reusable products at her workplace.

“I work at Fit Republic, and a lot of college students bring in their own cups for their shakes,” she said. “It makes me happy when they do … as a business, we do go through a lot of single-use plastic cups and if we could lower the amount we use, I think that would make an impact.”

While canvas shopping bags and reusable straws seem to be the most popular options lately, there are several more products that have been popularized by this trend. Many have started carrying bamboo utensils in their bags to avoid using single-use plastic utensils at restaurants. One company, Final Straw, has started creating collapsible metal straws that are carried as a keychain. Many chain stores have started selling canvas bags as an alternative to plastic.

More Common Popular Products

Lush shampoo & conditioner bars using the “naked packaging.”
Togstad using reusable water bottles with friends.

McKenna Togstad, an MSUM senior, also uses reusable products daily.

“I like using the Lush shampoo and conditioner,” she said. Lush is a bath product company that is ethically-made and uses “naked” packaging. This packaging is minimal and can be refilled at their locations.

“I love that they are ethically-made and limit the amount of packaging they use,” she said. “The shampoo and conditioner come in a bar so it technically has no packaging, and once it’s gone there’s no waste.”

Along with the products above, Togstad religiously uses reusable canvas shopping bags.

“I like to use them to limit my carbon footprint, and it’s overall easier than having a bunch of single-use plastic bags around the house,” she said.

Let’s get into why this trend is one everyone should be taking part in. On average, individuals use 1.6 single-use plastic straws daily. Every day, Americans alone use enough straws to wrap around Earth 2.5 times. These straws are not recyclable, meaning they will either end up in a landfill or travel towards the ocean, causing harm to the environment and its wildlife. Single-use utensils and plastic bags are notorious for creating the same negative environmental impact.

Graph showing the rise in plastic waste over the years.

Now that so many reusable products are available to all, the switch has been made easy. With the known benefits of reusable products and people’s willingness to invest in them, this trend will be relevant for some time.

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