It started with a Nando’s.
Naturally, as it’s me, the story of my most important New Year’s resolution for 2018 begins at a Nando’s. I was having food with a group of friends and I noticed there were no straws available at the drinks area. There was a sign up saying that the particular restaurant had decided to ditch straws to help the environment.
I’m usually good at being eco-friendly; I’m a vegetarian, I try to recycle, and I don’t use plastic bags. The sign at Nando’s was different though; I’d almost forgotten that plastic straws were damaging for the environment and that I use quite so many of them in my everyday life. I looked back over my week and remembered that drink at Starbucks, that night out filled with cocktails, that time I didn’t want to smudge my lipstick. Why was I oblivious to the impact that this plastic would have, and could I completely eliminate them in 2018?
I went home and looked into it, and found that plastic straws are a bigger problem globally than I would have thought. It’s estimated that 70 million plastic straws are entering landfill or the world’s oceans each year, harming marine life and releasing carbon dioxide as they fail to decompose.
I found a BuzzFeed video encouraging employees to stop using straws, and decided to make this small change myself next year, and write about it here in an attempt to help me stick to it.
Like with ditching plastic bags, a small adjustment like this could quickly add up and make a big difference. Most people – myself included – believe that electricity use is the biggest thing we can change as consumers to benefit the environment, but along with reducing beef consumption, rejecting plastic could have the largest impact on the climate.
Demand for plastics is expected to double in the next 20 years, most plastics are single-use, and only 14% of plastic packaging worldwide is recycled. It is estimated that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. If everyone reduces the amount of plastic they use, less carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere, and fewer marine animals will be harmed by a plastic-filled ocean.
More often than not, I get frustrated by the pressure that’s placed on the consumer to reduce their waste, as corporations and companies are far more likely to provoke change, but when it comes to reducing plastic, companies have been surprisingly forward-thinking. Since the 5p plastic bag charge was introduced in England in 2015, UK supermarkets reported an 85% drop in carrier bag use. More recently, Wetherspoons and other bars like All Bar One are also making a move to ban plastic straws.
To make an impact as a consumer, you can make sure that you’re asking for your drinks with no straw, don’t pick them up from the counters when they’re available, or you could even email the management of your local bars telling them to switch to paper straws.
So if you, like me, were disturbed by the bleaker points of Blue Planet 2, or you just want to find a way to help out the environment with very little effort, why not make your 2018 new year’s resolution to buy a reusable straw to carry around (like this stainless steel one) or just ditch the straws altogether?
Readers, it’s time to stop sucking.
Find out more at Strawless Ocean.