A lot of the people who threw these straws on the ground probably had the attitude that "it's just a straw", and one of the biggest problems that I see with that kind of thinking is that it can multiply faster than a calculator and instantly turn into "it's just 100,000 straws". (Some people will probably see this image and still fail to see a problem with throwing straws on the ground.)

As far as I know, the city I live in (Columbus Ohio) isn't "The Litter Capitol of the World" and I don't think it even has a reputation for having more litter than "normal", and therefore, if I was able to find this many straws littered on the ground in my city, I'm guessing that a lot of people could find this many discarded straws laying around in their city too if they went on a serious enough search for them.

When I first started this project, I wanted to do it to help bring attention to the fact that straws are one of the most commonly littered items in the world, but while searching for 100,000 them, I ended finding and noticing some unexpected things that gave me a unique perspective on the plastic straw problem that I'm anxious to share with everyone.

But rather than just telling you in words why I now believe that straws are a bigger problem than a lot of people realize, I am sharing the following pictures which actually SHOW the problems that I see with straws in detail.

But for this first picture, all I want to say that a lot more straws are ending up on the ground as litter than you might think, and all I want to ask that people stop throwing them on the ground.

For those who say that it's "just a straw", a lot of the plastic straws that I find littered in the ground also comes with a plastic lid and a plastic cup, and here are 100 different examples of these throw-away cups that I found littered on the ground from 100 different establishments.

And for those who might be thinking that some of the cups in this picture are actually made of paper or Styrofoam and not plastic, the reason that paper cups don't leak is because they are coated with a thin layer of plastic, and foam cups are made out of "polystyrene" (which is light and fluffy variety of plastic) which means that it can be incredibly difficult to find disposable cups that are actually "plastic free".

It is rarely "just a straw", and come to think of it, I honestly don't remember ever seeing someone throw "just a straw" on the ground, but I've certainly seen countless people throw cups like these that have straws inside of them on the ground.

Because I've spent so much time doing litter clean-up projects along roads and highways, I have gotten so used to the sound of a fast-food cup being dropped out of a moving car and hitting the road followed by the sound of the plastic lid popping off and the ice cubes inside spilling out onto the pavement, that I can now hear when someone commits this particular act of littering even if they are a really far away from me.

And based on the types of throw-away cups that I typically find with straws in them, rather than encouraging people to break their habit of using plastic straws by switching to an alternative (such as "paper straws") I would encourage people to get healthy by breaking their addictions to fast-food and caffeine.

There is no escape from the connection between our health and the health of our environment, and by eating more naturally, the number of straws that end up on the ground as litter will "naturally" start to decrease.

Would you like "unnecessary paper" or "unnecessary plastic" with that "unnecessary straw" that you're not even going to open and are just going to throw on the ground?

While picking up 100,000 plastic straws that were littered throughout my city, I was shocked by just how many of them were still individually wrapped and never even used.

There were so many in fact, that after sorting through them, I was able to pick out 100 different varieties. (All 100 of theses are at least a slightly different color, shape, or size.)

We hear a lot about "single-use plastics". (Plastic items that are used just once and then throw in the trash.)

But something even more disturbing to me that I keep finding examples of whenever I pick up litter is what I call "zero-use plastics". (Plastic items that were never even used once and that were thrown on the ground instead of in the trash.)

Regardless of how you may personally feel about straws and how "necessary" or "unnecessary" you think they are, I would hope that we can at least all agree that straws that don't even get used and that just end up as litter on the ground are completely unnecessary.

Did you know that if a person uses an average of just one straw per month during their lifetime, and they live to 85 years old, they will have used over 1,000 straws?

Obviously, a lot of people out there are using a lot more than just one straw per month, but it's important to keep in mind that even the seemingly small life-style choices that we make will seriously add up over our lifetime.

Some say that we humans are basically parasites that are sucking up resources and that it would be impossible to bring a child into this world without them causing a lot of destruction through their consumption, but not only can this consumption be dramatically reduced by making more environmentally mindful choices, but children with that mindset will have a strong desire to have a greater positive impact on the planet than negative one in their lifetime.

And even if you don't have children, you can still "adopt" a more minimalistic and less wasteful lifestyle that could end up influencing others around you of all ages, and that could dramatically increase the positive impact that you end up having on the world.

We all know that there are a lot of cans and bottles littered on the ground. (So many in fact, that some people round them up and recycle them as a source of income.)

But there are a lot of cans and bottles littered on the ground that would be extremely difficult to recycle due to the fact that they contain a lot of toxic ingredients. (Including a plastic straw that sucks these toxic concoctions out of the can or bottle.)

OK, some might argue and say that it's not really a "straw", but it not only looks and performs the same, but it will do the same damage if left in the environment.

And in the same way that most beverages that come with a straw in them are unhealthy, most of the aerosol spray cans and bottles that come with a straw in them are unhealthy as well.

If you wanted to kill a bug by spraying it with a can of "bug spray", but you accidentally grabbed a can of "hair spray" instead, it would probably still do the job, and before you spray your hair, your body, or the air in your home that you will be breathing throughout the day with anything, I'd encourage you to read (and research) the ingredients on the label.

Even the graffiti that local artists decorate the city with traveled through a plastic straw, and what I'd like to say to these artists is that art by itself can be powerful, but when combined with activism it can be far more powerful and life-changing, so if you want to leave your "mark" on society, I'd encourage you to find artistic ways to promote the positive changes that you want to see in the world.

There are plenty of worthwhile causes out there, but there are also so many distractions out there these days that getting people to stop and think about an issue that you feel is important may take some serious imagination and creativity, and that's where a talented artist can not only put their talents to good use, but also put it on display for the world to see.

I want to mention that during my search for 100,000 plastic straws on the ground, there were lots of times when I bent down to pick up what I thought was a straw, but then I realized that it wasn't a straw, and one of the more interesting finds were 8-count "screw packs".

As you can see in the picture, these things don't just look a lot like a fast-food straw, but they fit perfectly in fast-food cup.

And because we are living in a world where "safety" is becoming a bigger and bigger priority, I felt that I should probably put a warning out there to anyone still using straws that you might always check your straws for screws before taking the first sip 😉

I don't want to take away your FREEDOM of choice, I want to show you that you have more choices than you realize and that your choices are powerful.

The choices we make (even seemingly small ones like throwing litter on the ground) are ultimately "votes" for the kind of world that we choose for tomorrow.

I have a vision for a better world, and I do these clean-up projects because working towards making my vision a reality is part of my own personal "pursuit of happiness", and as long as nobody can show that what I'm doing is interfering with their own "pursuit of happiness", then I will keep going.

After counting the 100,000 straws, I took the giant pile of straws and put them into "straw bales", and I was about to sweep up and throw away the big pile of dirt and little pieces of plastic that were left over on the ground, but then it occurred to me that maybe some people really need to see this.

If you are under the impression that plastic straws will eventually "break down" and therefore aren't a problem, here is an actual picture of straws that are in various stages of "breaking down". (And turning into little pieces of harmful "microplastics"!)

If you throw a plastic straw on the ground and nobody ever comes along and picks it up, it will eventually go from being a single piece of plastic that is easy to spot and pick up to being countless tiny pieces of plastic that are difficult to see and even more difficult to pick up, and that will go on to contaminate the water, the soil, the animals, and ultimately us for ages to come!

If we take on the attitude that throwing plastic straws on the ground isn't a problem due to the fact that straws are "small", than throwing cigarette butts (which are also made of plastic) or anything else that is made of plastic and could be considered "small" won't matter to us either, and if we continue to ignore small pieces of litter like this, then then smallest pieces of litter of all (microplastics) will slowly creep up on us and become one of our "biggest" threats in the future.

Please join me in the effort to help keep litter out of the environment by either picking up litter that you see on the ground, or by refusing to ever litter in the first place, or by helping others to realize that even something as seemingly small and insignificant as a throw-away plastic straw can do a lot more harm to our environment than they currently realize.