St Albans #refusethestraw campaign is inspired by Plastic Free July and has one simple aim; to drastically reduce the use of plastic straws in bars, pubs, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, schools and everywhere else across St Albans. After watching A Plastic Ocean as part of the St Albans Film Festival, Emma (founder) felt even more motivated to push forward with this movement to rid St Albans of these harmful, and unnecessary, single- use plastics from our community.
A plastic straw has a useful life of around 20 minutes, and most places don’t bother separating them out for recycling. Many end up in our oceans. A great example of human wastefulness! Local businesses can take part in the following ways:
- Provide a straw only when requested by a customer
- Provide compostable paper straws instead (not those with a polyethylene lining) or other eco-friendly straws
- Get rid of straws completely*
*Note: In the interest of considering customers with disabilities, ideally sustainable alternatives to plastic straws would still be available, at least on request.
Furthermore, individuals can help by spreading the word, speaking to people who work in local businesses about changes they can make, and simply by refusing a straw when buying a drink.
The campaign has got off to a roaring start and is gaining momentum fast! So far 16 businesses (and counting!) have pledged their support and are taking action, with more being added to the list daily. This is great news for our environment!
At the time of writing, the following are all phasing out (or already have removed) plastic straws:
Lussmanns – all 5 branches across Herts
Thank you, and well done to you all!
I am so excited about this fantastic step forward and can’t wait for further developments! To keep up with the latest campaign news and progress, make sure you follow @starefusestraw on twitter and St Albans #refusethestraw over on facebook. Neighbouring town of Harpenden also has its own #refusethestraw campaign, which you can find on facebook or twitter too.
And don’t forget to tag us in your local strawless or eco straw photos and/ or share them with us using the #refusethestraw hashtag to help spread the word even further!
Small changes make a big impact… and together we can clean up our planet.
If you would like to set up a campaign in your local area, here are some top tips:
- You can get started just by setting up an email address, Twitter and Facebook page.
- Approach businesses initially with a polite email, following up with an update if no response.
- Keep it light – we all know this is a serious thing, but a big green rant might put people off.
- Start with green and community minded businesses who are more likely to switch to get the ball rolling and build momentum. Other people are more likely to switch if they see others doing so!
- Take it at your own pace. Even just 1 or 2 emails / calls / visits a day makes a huge impact!
- Be prepared with information to be able to widen the conversation if the business would like further details e.g. disposable cups, food waste etc…
- Don’t be afraid to try the big chains. Ask them to use your local branch as a pilot.
- Spread the word about your campaign on local Facebook groups etc…
- Regular updates on social media keeps momentum. Post successes, and regularly publicise a list of everyone who has switched.
- People like to share photos, encourage use of the hashtag to help spread the word further.
- Approach local media and bloggers to get coverage.
- Work with local groups e.g. WI, Transition, Scouts.
Plastic Straw Alternatives
There are various sustainable straw options. I have tested out a couple of different ones at home; including steel and bamboo reusables, plus disposable paper and wheat ones too. I recommend the best thing to do is try some out for yourself and decide which is best for you. But here are some of my personal opinions:
Wheat Straws (£3.49 for 40 straws)
Pros – they can be cut to size
Cons – feels like they are softening as drink
Paper Straws (£7.99 for 150 straws)*
Pros – cheap and easy to source
Cons – they can get soggy
Pros – very durable, easy to clean
Cons – maybe feels abit cold and uncomfortable, plus mind you don’t bash your teeth! (Some have latex covers which would be good). Also makes an annoying sound against glass
Bamboo Straws (£3.99 for 4 pack of 145mm straws plus cleaning brush)
Pros – Cheap for reusables, highly sustainable, I like the fact they are chunkier than most straws (comfortable)
Cons – May stain abit from drink
Conclusion: The bamboo straws are my personal favourites!
Enter via rafflecopter below.
Open to UK residents only. Closes 10th August 2017. Other T&Cs apply.
*Disclosure: Affiliate Amazon link. This does not cost the buyer any extra.
Thank you to Eco Straws, who supplied the bamboo straw set as a prize. I purchased my own straws. All thoughts and opinions are my own.