The environmentally conscious are mocked when “save the turtles” becomes a catchphrase for TikTok users making fun of those who use metal straws instead of plastic.
TikTok is is a social media platform for young people to create, share, and discover short music videos consisting of singing, dancing, lip-syncing, and comedy. This is where the catchphrase “save the turtles” began.
On April 6th, @calvinthomas92 mocked the environmentally conscious character of TikTok user @psherman42wallaby in a video where he plays as a metal straw owner. The video gained over 684,600 likes and 68,600 shares in several weeks. Then on April 11th, @dahlia.jean uploaded a different version of this video which accumulated over 265,100 likes and 12,700 shares in two weeks.
The public’s view of plastic straws first began to change after The Leatherback Trust uploaded a YouTube video on August 12, 2015 in which people attempt to remove a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nostril. The video gained over 10.7 million views and 87,000 likes. Major companies like Starbucks, Disney, and Hyatt began to initial a plastic straw ban.
A Reddit user posted that “My reusable metal straws came individually wrapped in plastic.” The user then proceeded to post a picture of her plastic-wrapped metal straws as a statement of how these straws defeat the whole purpose and message.
The controversy behind the straws that began the “save the turtles” catchphrase aligns with the question of whether metal straws really do help the environment. The answer is yes, they do, but not very effectively. Even if we could get rid of all plastic straws, it would only have a tiny effect on the environment because there aren’t many straws used in the world compared to bin bags, plastic bags, plastic packaging, etc.
Save the Turtles became a catchphrase used on TikTok for users commenting on the use of plastic straws, usually to mock the character of a metal straw owner. The controversy behind this continues to rise as plastic straw bans become more popular and social media proceeds to depict the metal straws as impractical and ineffectual.
By Nicole Kim
Sep. 3, 2019