The final straw in the war on plastic

Do you really need that straw in your smoothie or cocktail? Have you considered where it will probably end up?

Australians are using about 10 million straws every day with many ending up in our waterways where they rank in the top 10 of rubbish items. Some end up in worse places such as a turtle’s nostril – this video went viral and, be warned, it’s not pleasant viewing.

Countries around the world are waging war on single-use plastic bags, reuseable coffee cups are all the rage and plastic straws are in the firing line.

The fight against plastic pollution has gained support from no less an identity than Queen Elizabeth. The Queen decided to ban straws and plastic bottles from the royal estates after working with Sir David Attenborough on a wildlife conservation documentary.

Plastic straws have become one of the most common items of plastic polluting our waterways and beaches, and take about 200 years to break down.

“Among the top 10 items found in the ocean are plastic straws and stirrers,” says change.org. “Most recycling facilities don’t process the type of plastic used in plastic straws, which means most end up either in landfill or washed down stormwater drains and into the ocean when not properly disposed of. To put that in perspective, over 10 million plastic straws are used in Australia every single day.”

The race to ban single-use plastic straws in bars and eateries is gaining momentum. In an increasing number of bars and cafes, they are either banned, not being offered unless requested or are replaced by paper or bamboo versions.

What can you do?

* Refuse a straw when it’s offered.

* Carry your own reusable metal, bamboo or glass straw, if you must use one.

* Ask venues to go straw-free or to use environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic.

Single-use plastic bags are banned in Tasmania, the ACT, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia have vowed to phase them out this year, which leaves NSW as the odd ‘man’ out. I hope straws are next.

Do you really need a straw in your drink?

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Australia’s favourite beaches

Written by Janelle Ward

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