Posted By:The iYFA Team

Post Date:November 7, 2017

No straw, please!

In our Chiswick offices the use (well, non-use) of plastics is never far from our minds. Our eco Boxes are a major part of what we do but the environment as a whole is what we care about. So when we were out for a drink recently we noticed just how many plastic straws we received with our drinks: two in each of the non-alcoholic drinks. What really struck us was that most of us took the straws out of our drinks and put them in the rubbish. This total waste really hit home.

It is estimated that Americans use 500 million straws daily. Here in the UK, on average, 3.5 million McDonald’s customers per day buy a drink with a straw. That means 3.5 million straws a day are discarded just by McDonald’s customers.

But it’s not all bad news as JD Wetherspoon has joined All Bar One, as well as the smaller chains Oakman Inns and the Liberation Group, in stopping automatically putting plastic straws in drinks, becoming the latest pub chain to put an end to this ‘wasteful’ practice.

Wetherspoon’s also say it will only use biodegradable paper straws from January 2018 in a move it claims will stop 70 million plastic straws entering landfill or making their way into the world’s oceans every year.

The announcement comes as a wider campaign known as Refuse the Straw gathers pace. It aims to stop pub chains and restaurants handing out plastic straws, which are thought to take up to 500 years to decompose. There are many campaigns against the plastic straw today and one, not so far away in London’s Soho neighbourhood, has the eye-catching name of Straw Wars.

The act of simply requesting ‘No straw’ at bars and restaurants would not only reduce the amount of plastic straws in our waste overnight, but it would also make savings for the business.

Plastic disposable straws consist of the petroleum bi-product polypropylene, which is essentially the same stuff that fuels our cars. Polypropylene does not naturally degrade in the environment and ends up floating across the oceans until it is consumed by some aquatic creature.

Further, as time goes by, plastic will break down into smaller and smaller pieces, never completely biodegrading, but transforming our oceans into a type of ‘plastic soup’.

Plastic straws are a single-use item, and are ending up in our oceans by the thousands and always make the ‘top ten’ of items picked up on beach clean-ups. And it’s not hard to see why. Avid scuba diver Kasey Turner was snorkelling after work at a popular dive site in Manly, Australia. In the area she found 319 straws on a single 20-minute snorkel. 24 hours later Kasey went back and did another snorkel and found 294 in the exact same place.

Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in, or ingest plastic pollution.

So, what can we do? Well, if you really can’t put down your bendy straws at home, then try using an alternative. Almost all supermarkets will carry a brand of straw that is dish-washer safe and reusable. There are also straws made of bamboo, glass, metal, and even plant-based materials available.

Here at iYFA we have made a pledge to say ‘No’ to the plastic straw. So why not join us and at the very least say “No plastic straw, please!” when ordering a drink. Get into the habit of asking for no straw before you even order a beverage. And be ready to tell your server why.

Make a personal commitment to say ‘no’ to plastic straws and encourage your friends and family to take the pledge as well!

The iYFA Team


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