#4 Villain of the Beach Clean Ups

Caz Tomisson

Caz Tomisson

Dedicated volunteer and secret super hero.

Clean Beach Initiative volunteers find a lot of straws on the beach in Barcelona, especially during the sunnier months.

They are easy to see due to their glow-stick-like neon colour. We are veeeery aware that straws are a villain, but which one would this evil plastic perpetrator be? It would be Marvel Comics‘ very own Thanos, and here is why! Thanos seems to be pretty much indestructible, which is true of straws (and, as you now know, all plastics – but one villain at a time please).

Sucking the life out of the wildlife

Thanos has resisted a large amount of attack in various forms, and still seems to come back from all of it, pretty much unaffected. Straws take an incredibly long time to break down (if they are not swallowed by wildlife first). Scientists estimate it takes one straw approximately 200 years to break down. 200 hundred years, for essentially one drink that takes about an hour or two max to consume (and would not taste that much different without said straw!) Once they eventually break down in the sea, due to sunlight or general wear and tear, they join the motley crew of microplastics, and continue on with their environmental destruction. 

However, the biggest reason that this supervillain is similar to straws is due to his choice of weapon. Thanos’s most popular form of attack is to choke, especially in the most recent portrayals of this character. You’ve guessed it – this is exactly what our long, thin beach criminals do! When seen in the oceans, wildlife often mistake the floating object as food.. It is estimated that more than one million birds die per year choking on straws alone! 

The last straw!

In 2018, Greenpeace called for Spain to reduce the use of straws. In the height of summer, Spain was producing 13 million straws per day. To put this in context, this means that every person in Spain uses a straw once every three days. 6% of the plastic found in the Mediterranean sea is straws. In July 2021, the European Union withdrew some single-use plastics from the market, including straws. Yet here we are, still collecting them on the beaches of Barcelona nearly a year on. Why is this? Do people know that this single-use ban has been implemented? We do not have the answers for this. What we do know is that every Saturday when we throw these colourful tubes of plastic into the grey recycling bin they are not decreasing in number.



We are believers of True News, and document where all our information comes from. We feel it is important to recognise those that have given us the knowledge to pass on to our readers – we know we have to, but we would do it all the same! 

You can fact check our information below and/or do further reading on what we have discussed:  

EU withdrawal of single use plastic: 


Decomposing of Plastic: 


Why are plastic straws bad for the environment: