By Larraine Roulston :
Over the years, our love of the drinking straw has grown through nostalgic images and our life-long habits. Today, there is a global movement … “The Last Straw — Literally!”
With a mission to reduce straws, The Last Plastic Straw is a volunteer community project for Save Our Shores coordinating with its Sanctuary Steward program. Its goal is to educate the public about the absurdly wasteful practice of single use plastics and their effect on our environment. The group asks people simply to request that their drinks not include a straw. It also invites restaurant and bar owners to join the movement by including “a straw is available upon request’’ note on menus as well as looking to purchase reusable or biodegradable ones. In Jackie Nunez’s, founder of the Last Plastic Straw, article “The Sipping Point,’’ she asks people to post their “Last Straw Moment.”
Another group, One More Generation, is urging citizens to take the “One Less Straw’’ pledge to avoid their use during October. Their passion focuses on saving the more than one million seabirds that die annually from ingesting plastic garbage, usually in the form of straws. With pledge buttons in hand and school involvement, they state, “We want students to get in the habit of saying ‘No’ to plastic straws for the entire month. Students will also have the opportunity to upload pictures of themselves and their families refusing a straw or even taking pictures of servers wearing our campaign buttons.”
In the popular oceanside town of Tofino on Vancouver Island, Michelle Hall spearheaded a “Straws Suck’’ campaign. She asked restaurant owners to stop routinely handing out straws and provide biodegradable options only upon request. “All but eight of 30 businesses have agreed to go straw-free. People in the town of 1,800 launch into conversations about reducing plastic waste when they notice the straws are gone,” she said. With positive feedback, there will be even more awareness when approximately 22,000 tourists and surfers visit daily during its high summer season. As with all global beach cleanups, straws are one of the top 10 pieces of trash being gathered, but for the Long Beach Lodge Resort in British Columbia, which has stopped its unnecessary and costly practice of using and discarding 12,000 straws each year.
From the business world resolution to be part of the solution, Bacardi Limited has initiated a “no-straw” movement as part of its “Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future’’ environmental campaign. By making several of its venues straw-free, it hopes that within the global Bacardi infrastructure, the concept will follow suit.
To quote the UK’s Straw Wars, “By only providing plastic straws when requested, we can significantly reduce the disposal of single-use plastic. Such a simple action will not only save on overheads, [but] it will also have incredibly positive and far reaching effects on our planet.”
The issue reflects the sheer volume of 500 million disposable plastic straws being discarded every day in the United States. Plastic does not biodegrade; it only photo degrades from water, sand and sun, into smaller pieces, which in turn become ingested by marine and land animals to eventually enter our food chain.
Without a doubt, most of those living in nursing homes, the disabled, and many hospital patients require a straw. Alternatives for institutions and individuals are straws made from bamboo and corn starch. As well, check out Simply Straws, Aardvark, Mulled Mind, and Straw Straws made out of glass, paper, stainless steel and straw respectively. The way to stop plastic pollution is at the source.
Larraine authors a children’s book series on composting and
pollinating at www.castlecompost.com