Before you know it, it's in your cup, glass or bottle, staring at you right in the face, the disposable plastic straw. The flexible piece of plastic that has accompanied our drinks for decades.
I had a pint of soda water the other day and not only did it arrive with two straws in it - but a plastic stirrer as well. I asked the bartender what happens to them when the customer has finished drinking - he looked at me cautiously, as if to say “why on earth do you want to know that?!” and simply pointed to the bin. The bin was full - full of straws.
On average, a disposable plastic straw is used for a period of just 20 minutes, and approximately 1 billion disposable plastic drinking straws being used daily. Although longer than the five-second lifespan of the stirrer you may use to stir-up your coffee or tea, 20 minutes is still a mere fraction of the several hundred years it could spend sitting in a landfill.
A single straw may seem insignificant, however, someone who uses one straw a day, for the next decade, will throw 3,650 individual pieces of plastic into the landfill. There’s also a chance that plastic may get lost along the way and end up in our oceans and seas. Although some disposable straws can be recycled (#2 and #5 plastics), sadly most straws don't get the chance. Disposable straws have routinely been one of the top ten items found on beaches around the world during coastal cleanups. And these are the ones that are found - the others are out at sea causing harm to marine life and polluting our oceans. Seeing this turtle video was a game changer for me - warning graphic content. After watching that it became so much easier for me to remember to say ‘no straw please’ when ordering.
Some good news though, there's a solution! Whether you take your own straw or decide to go straw-free the next time you drink or dine out, remember to ask your server to 'hold' the straw. If enough people ask for drinks without disposable straws, servers could decide to ask customers first, before automatically handing them out diverting them all from landfill.
JD Wetherspoon, who have over 900 pubs in their chain, were handing out 70 million straws a year, but say bar staff have complained about chucking away vast quantities of used straws during their shifts. Fantastically they’ve decided to take action, and they are the latest chain to stop automatically putting straws in drinks.
Ditch regular disposable drinking straws and make the switch to reusable ones today. We all have a drawer of reusable cutlery at home, so why not throw in a few sustainable and eco-friendly drinking straws!
Timmy’s has this set of 4 stainless steel ones that come with a special brush for keeping them clean inside too. Suitable for use with hot or cold beverages, these are also ideal for frozen cocktails, smoothies and milkshakes and can be used time and time again.