This post first appeared on Thriveglobal.com 

There’s a turtle with a plastic bag on its nose,

and a bird with a plastic straw in its beak.

Horrifying scenes of waste-filled seas.

Posted on social media, these emotional images go viral. The public’s imagination becomes fueled and incited.

The Problem: Plastics are being put front and center, and we ban plastic straws, alarming the public into creating superficial environmental solutions.

What priority are we missing here? The water coming through the straws that we’re all drinking is the real problem. People have no idea how bad it really is. We’re not being told because if we were to know how toxic the water we’re drinking is, we would panic.

Drinking water in America and around the world is in crisis, and while we care about a solution, we feel disempowered to do anything.

We grasp at straws as a symbol of doing something. While it may be a step in the right direction, there are some problems with this.

Plastic straws make up only about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9 million tons of the ocean’s plastic waste.  USA Today

It’s harder than you think to ban straws.

Banning straws puts a serious burden on people with disabilities.

According to Starbucks: Getting rid of straws is a step toward ending plastic waste–but if it just involves replacing them with hard-to-recycle plastic lids, it may not do much good at all.

In Seattle, city officials initially struggled to find viable alternatives to plastic for straws when bans were first proposed 10 years ago.

At Bon Appétit, finding viable alternatives was also more difficult than expected. Ganzler says it wasn’t just compostable straws they were looking for. Their plastic replacements needed to be biodegradable, too.  National Geographic

The images of plastic straws in the ocean get the public on the bandwagon of banning straws and spurred many social media conversations.

People weigh in on Twitter:

“Bottom line? One size does not fit all. The solution is simple: 1. If you don’t need a straw don’t use one. 2. If you can, use a reusable straw. 3. Plastic straws should be available to those who need ’em – no questions asked.” @james452

Banning straws is just a bandaid. It won’t have a demonstrable effect on the oceans. On the flip side it’s a symbol to bring this issue of wasteful, toxic plastic to the consciousness of the American people.  In other words, it’s a conversation starter.

Yet, we’re still left with the question, the real priority here:

Is anyone championing this national crisis, that 70% of the nations’ water is not drinkable?

I don’t want to scare you or scare myself, yet truth be told,  there are all kinds of chemical compounds in our drinking water, and water irrigating plant life. Antibiotics, lead, fertilizers, and many more toxic chemicals that we don’t even know how to test for.

The toxic water in Flint, MI wasn’t even the worst. Here’s what’s cropping up in the news about another school in Baltimore, and there’s likely going to be many more, perhaps your town is next:

“When it comes to lead in schools, no news is bad news,” Edwards said, adding that testing for and detecting lead is key to preventing future harm. “If you’re not hearing about this problem, that’s when you should be worried.”  The Washington Post 

What can you do?

In the meantime, stay knowledgeable about what’s going on.  Below are some organizations, companies and individuals to check out to read up on what information they have to offer on water quality and the environment, and offer the latest solutions.

Find out about a farmer’s market in your area, and inquire about the water they use so you can buy clean produce and vegetables.

Some people are building homes with farms as more and more are concerned with their food and water quality.

The movement to eliminate plastic straws proposes to use plastic straws as a symbol to remind people to be environmentally responsible.

Everyday should be Earth Day, not just April 22. 

You could do something about the water crisis. We all could. Check out some of the links below, comment and raise your voice. Share your findings with others.

And when you find a solution that’s immediate, go for it. Don’t wait for the powers that be to clean up the water you’re drinking, it will talke too long, and by then so much damage will be done.

It’s more important to do something that’s good than to do something that feels good. 

It’s up to you, it’s up to each of us to protect our health and prioritize what’s done to rectify this out of control, global problem that’s growing faster that we could ever imagine.

Here are some links to check out, and follow me here to stay updated consistently on the water crisis.

Click here to receive a list of links to my carefully curated sites/articles where you could read up on accurate environmental information and stay informed.