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Suck it up: These people will inspire you to ban plastic straws

2017 wasn’t all bad. Ok it had a lot of low points, but it also marked the turning point against single use plastic. From villages to cities, chain pubs to community groups, consumer opinion is turning its back on disposables.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 4 January 2018

It’s not often Jamie Oliver and Weatherspoons have things in common. But both mass market chains decided to say goodbye to the plastic straw last year. And they’re not alone. 

After a #StrawlessinSeattle campaign in 2017 that saw over 200 businesses sign up, Seattle will become the first city to ban plastic straws and cutlery - as from July 2018.

We also ended the year with the news that two communities in the UK have decided to reject single use plastic - that is straws, coffee cups, plastic cutlery and so on and many more are on their way.

Plastic Straw Campaigns2

Think about it, do you really need a straw in your drink? Be brave, say no.

Aberporth in Wales has launched a campaign against plastic that includes the general store selling milk in glass bottles and the pub has switched to paper straws.

The campaign came about after resident, Gail Tudor, took part in a fact-finding mission around the UK coastline to discover the effects of plastic on marine life.

She told BBC News, "Plastic does have some uses, but what we are looking to do is get rid of single-use plastic such as straws and coffee cups."

The 1,100 strong village is now looking to become a beacon for plastic free living and inspire other communities to move away from disposable items that are used for moments and then take decades (or even centuries) to decompose and harm our marine wildlife.

Plastic Straw Campaigns Ullapool

Scottish school children have encouraged an entire village to ditch the plastic straw

Similarly, Ullapool in Scotland, has become the first Scottish village to officially scrap plastic straws. Sustainably minded school children from Ullapool Primary School and Glasgow's Sunnyside Primary launched a campaign late last year which resulted in all shops, bars and restaurants in the village ditching plastic for paper straws or getting rid of them all together. (Follow their campaign on social media with the brilliant hashtag, #NaeStrawAtAw).

Noel Hawkins from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who supported the kids’ campaign said: “Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas. Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because there alternative products are available.

This may be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas, but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool it can work anywhere. All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant.”

Plastic Straw Campaigns
“All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant”

And the number of people setting up their own campaigns against plastic waste is growing. 

As an example of what one person can do, check out the below campaigns which are all growing. 

St Albans

The St Alban’s Refuse the Straw campaign was set up by Emma Tyers around six months ago. 

She has got 27 restaurants, bars and cafes in the busy commuter town to ditch plastic straws or swap to eco-friendly alternatives and the number is growing.

"St Albans has lots of great pubs and restaurants here, and a strong community feeling, so it really is the perfect place for a campaign like this," says Tyers. "If we can rid this town of plastic straws, then it will show that it can be done anywhere. Plastics are having a devastating effect on our environment, particularly the ocean, and are even entering the food chain, so it’s urgent that we all take steps to reduce our consumption."


Straw Wars was put together by Randall & Aubin in Soho to connect London’s bars in a campaign to get rid of plastic straws, so far over 30 bars have joined them.


Dr Christian Dunn has set up #StrawFreeChester and wants to make Chester the first straw free city in the UK. He estimates Chester uses 300,000 straws a day.

“The plastic waste problem can seem so big though that it’s difficult to know where to start. So I wanted to show people in Chester that doing something as simple as not using a plastic straw can make a real difference, and the city could become part of the solution,” he said.

#StrawFreeChester has already been successful in bringing the issue to the local council, where it was agreed by Cheshire West and Chester that action would be taken on all single use plastics in the region. The campaign now has the support of Surfers Against Sewage as part of its Plastic Free Coastlines project, the Marine Conservation Society, the city’s Conservative party and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Chester & District group.


Over in Cornwall, Final Straw Cornwall are pushing for the south west county to be the first in the UK to ban plastic straws. The campaign, which only launched in 2017 already has over 80 businesses signed up to ditching the disposables and is fronted by Chef James Strawbridge.

All of this community powered work has never been more timely, especially with the news that China is no longer accepting our plastic waste.

The UK has sent China 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year (for burning, which is hardly ideal) but they’ve now stopped accepting it leading to fears of a plastic waste mountain piling up back here.

The question now is, why wait? What can you do in 2018 to help #ditchthedisposables?

5 reasons why it’s time to say no to plastic straws

Want help convincing people to make a change? Here’s five reasons.

  • Plastic straws are an environmental menace, they take 200 years to break down.
  • They can’t be recycled.
  • Globally the world goes through 1 billion straws a day.
  • Scientists reckon 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in, or ingest plastic pollution.
  • McDonalds serves a drink to 3.5 million people a day in the UK. That's 3.5 million straws a day from McDonalds alone.

Swap plastic for straws made of paper, glass, bamboo and metal here.

Find more people like you in the pebble pod

Georgina Wilson-Powell 4 January 2018

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