The Last Straw

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The Marine Conservation Society estimates the UK alone uses 8.5 billion straws every year. Their life span is as long as it takes for you to quench your thirst (approximately 30 seconds for a strawpedo) and then they stick around for 200 more years on our beautiful planet. They pollute our oceans, our streets and pose a very real threat to wild-life. No doubt you all saw the devastating impacts of single use plastics on marine wildlife during Blue Planet II.

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Thankfully, some people are waking-up to this madness, and breaking-up with straws. The Scottish Parliament have only gone and done it. Holyrood is leading by example and has rid the Parliament of plastic straws. Not only that, Scotland might actually become the first nation to ban plastic straws. It’s hoped that plans to phase them out will be confirmed in the coming months and the ban is set to be extended to the rest of the country by the end of 2019. (Happy side-note: cotton-buds will be phased out by the end of this year.)

However, way ahead of the Scottish Parliament is the picturesque seaside village of Ullapool in Wester Ross. Encouraged by an incredible group of school pupils from Glasgow all local watering holes in Ullapool have banned straws, or are using eco-friendly alternatives. The children were motivated to start this campaign after spending their field trip to the majestic Isle Martin picking up thousands of straws from the shores of Loch Broom. They brought their enthusiasm home with them and also convinced Glasgow City Council to implement the ban. If you want a job done, why wait on Parliament?

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Also, a little further south to the land of pasties, Cornwall deserves a pre-emptive shout out! The Cornish may become the first county to ban straws from all bars and restaurants after a successful campaign by The Final Straw Cornwall. Keep it up Cornwall!

Slightly slower off the start, Westminster is flirting with the idea of developing a similar policy and implementing a ban. There are whisperings of this policy becoming a possibility but,*sharp intake of breath* Michael Gove is claiming this will be much easier to do post Brexit… (should have put that on the side of the bus).

Admittedly there are some issues that arise with implementing an entire ban on the straw, and these need recognised. One in Five, a campaign that encourages political participation amongst disabled people in Scotland, is concerned about the impact that banning the straw will have on those with disabilities. This is why we need to stimulate conversation about our alternatives. In true #Green18 fashion this is not about cutting things out of our lives entirely, it's just about being conscious of our choices. We need to find alternatives, and as soon as we put pressure on straw manufacturing companies to change, they’ll have to.

The Chief Executive of Primaplast has admitted that there are no affordable alternatives yet: "We have to be rational… it's not reasonable enough to say 'stop using the products' without a solution," he said. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but the solution seems pretty clear to me. Don’t use them unless you need to.

There are straw4life alternatives on the market, so really there's no need for this vast wastage of single-use plastic. If I’m being honest, I’m not ready to break-up with straws. But I do intend on being your lame friend that turns up to the club with her straw4life, likely with a comical moustache attached to the tip. This doesn’t have to be your last straw… just your only one.

Join me - buy your straw here!