In October 2020 the ban on plastic straws finally came into force in England with those in the know jumping for joy that the pesky plastic tubes will no longer be handed out in bars, restaurants and fast-food outlets only to be thrown away just minutes later.
They're actually very good at what they do. They're hygienic, leak-proof, food safe and have successfully been transporting hot and cold liquids from cup to mouth for over a century. In England alone an estimated 4.7 billion are used every year.
So why ban them now?
Well, here's where it stops making sense. A single-use plastic straw is only useful for a few minutes. You enjoy your milkshake then pop it dutifully in the bin forgetting it ever existed. But it does still exist. According to the WWF it will take around 200 years for it to decompose which in theory means every straw ever made could still be out there somewhere!
Although popping them in the bin is still considered the responsible thing to do we do so without any thought for their final destination. The majority of the single-use plastic straws that aren't littered will end up in landfill and spend centuries breaking down. Of course some will have been incinerated in energy recovery centres and a small proportion may have been recycled too but the majority may well be hibernating in landfill or sailing the great oceans. The UK Marine Conservation Society state that single-use plastic straws are one of the most common items found on UK beaches so one way or another they are ending up in our oceans.
This might not seem like a significant problem, but when we consider the largest accumulation of plastic pollution in the ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is three times the size of France we must act now to reverse the damage. However, not only is the quantity of waste produced a concern but by not taking action we'll continue to harm seabirds, marine animals and fish.
What can I do about it?
Clearly single-use plastic straws are just the tip of the iceberg, but we're thrilled they're now illegal to sell and supply in England and urge those living where they are still available to refuse.
Where there is a ban, many outlets have opted to replace the plastic variety with paper versions. A great step towards reducing plastic consumption, but a step back in customer satisfaction. Paper straws quickly loose their rigidity and become impossible to use, often before the end of the drink. A number of reusable alternatives exist made from stainless steel, glass and even bamboo all of which can be popped in a bag, used out and about, then cleaned at home.
Our Yellow Lids reusable straw set is perfect for those looking to avoid both plastic and paper straws, they come in a handy cotton bag and are dishwasher safe. Plus in true Yellow Lids style, we've added bright yellow removable silicone tips for extra style and of course additional comfort. 👌See our straws Project Yellow Lids