St Albans Mission To Ditch Plastic Straws: #RefuseTheStraw Campaign 

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.

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

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!

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Beech House, St Albans, Herts
Beech House

At the time of writing, the following are all phasing out (or already have removed) plastic straws:

The Beech House

Charlie’s Coffee Shop

The Fleetville Larder

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

The Hare and Hounds

Smokehouse Deli

The Green Kitchen

Dylan’s at the Kings Arms

The Craft and Cleaver

The Boot

The Great Northern

The White Lion

The Courtyard Cafe

Lussmanns – all 5 branches across Herts

Inn on the Park

George Street Canteen

Thank you, and well done to you all! 

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Craft and Cleaver, St Albans, Herts
Craft and Cleaver

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!

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Living Life Our Way

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. 

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

      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

      #refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

      Steel Straws (£5.99 for 4 pack of 145mm angled straws plus cleaning brush)

      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! 

      On that note; to celebrate the launch of this campaign and as part of Plastic Free July, I have teamed up with Eco Straws to giveaway a set of 4 bamboo straws (215mm) for one lucky winner! 

      Bamboo straw, giveaway, competition, eco straws, #refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign

      Enter via rafflecopter below.

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      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. 


      #2poundchallenge – The £2 Food Challenge with Zamcog and Voucherbox 

      Can I feed myself for £2 for one day?

      That was the challenge set by Voucherbox. The purpose of this challenge is to raise money for the charity Zamcog, whose goal is to support Zambia’s most at-risk children through food and education. It costs £2 to feed and educate a child in Zambia every day, and for each #2poundchallenge post published, Voucherbox will donate £50 to Zamcog. That supports a vulnerable child for nearly a month! The challenge also aims to encourage people to think about their own food spending and waste too. 

      How could I possibly say no? Of course I jumped straight onboard! So here is how I fed myself for £2 for one day (shopping from Sainsburys)…

      Morning Smoothie (Breakfast)

      Frozen Summer Fruits (500g £2.00) 50g 20p 

      Fairtrade banana 16p each

      Apple (family pack of 11 £1.75) 16p each

      Small handful mixed seeds 6p 

      Kale (500g £2) 10g 4p

      (Almond milk £1 per litre) 100 ml 10p

      = 72p

      Lunch (Jacket with Beans)

      Basics baked beans in tomato sauce (25p) 1/2 can 13p

      Small baked potato 22p

      = 35p

      Dinner (Vegetable Cous Cous) 

      Vegetable stock cubes (10 x 10g 65p) 7p

      Cous cous (1kg £1.20) 200g 24p

      Chargrilled mediterranean vegetables – aubergine, courgette, red & yellow peppers (500g £1.60) 100g 32p

      Carrots (1kg 50p) 2 carrots finely sliced/ grated) 8p

      Brocolli (335g 45p) 1/3 15p

      Beansprouts (400g 65p) 40g 7p

      = 93p

      Total = £2

      #2poundchallenge, two pound challenge, food challenge, Voucherbox, Zamcog, charity, fundraising, blogger, Living Life Our Way, campaigns, causes

      I found it easier than I thought to do this for myself for one day, but it would have been a harder challenge to do it as a family, and I think I would also struggle to do it for long to be honest! However, I was able to still have my breakfast smoothie, albeit abit smaller than usual, that is packed with nutrition and sets me up for the day. I was also able to stick to my usual diet of mainly vegan and raw food, but did have to opt for frozen choices rather than all fresh in order to maintain eating a variety of fruit and vegetables within the small budget set.

      It did make me think about how I could reduce my shopping budget though, which I will try to take onboard. I do often freeze fresh fruit and veg just before it goes off already, so this helps to minimise waste and cut down on costs. Also, if I had been doing this challenge at another time of year, I could have used alot of home-grown food. But I enjoyed taking on this challenge and I am thrilled to be able to use my blog to raise money for such a great cause too! 

      Are you a blogger who would like to raise £50 for Zamcog? If so, why not take part in the #2poundchallenge too!

      Sustainable St Albans Week

      Sustainable St Albans Week kicked off this weekend with a variety of activities throughout the city. There are over 100 events happening throughout the week, that focus on green living and sustainability, to educate and inspire our local community. There is a wide range of activities, for both adults and children, such as; litter picking, talks, films, exhibitions, storytelling, junk modelling, food waste workshops and many more. Just a few of the highlights are:

      • Plant-based cooking demonstrations by The Green Kitchen to help reduce food waste.
      • Make reusable gift bags at St Albans Christmas market from recyclable materials.
      • Recrafting. Swap a donation to Oxfam (Harpenden) for swatches of fabrics or other craft materials.

      These are just a few examples of some of the wonderful selection of activities available during this week. Many of the events, including the ones above, are FREE. However, please note that there is a charge for some of the other activities. A full schedule of events can be found on Sustainable St Albans Week website.

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      Last but not least, I would like to challenge St Albans pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs; will you go straw-free to celebrate Sustainable St Albans Week? Either ditch disposable plastic straws completely or provide them on request only. Sign up here…

      http://strawwars.org/

      Individuals can also join in too, simply request no plastic straws when you order. Pledge your commitment to refuse plastic straws by signing the One Less Straw campaign pledge. You can also use #1LessStraw #strawless and/ or #strawfree hashtags to share your commitment on social media, and don’t forget to ask your friends and family to take the pledge too! 

      See onelessstraw.org website for more useful information about this campaign.

      We can ALL make a difference just by saying ‘no thanks’ to plastic straws.

      30 Days Wild – Day 24: Microbeads 

      What are microbeads?

      • Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up.

      • The microbeads used are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can be also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon. If any of these are listed under ingredients then the product contains microbeads.

      • Microbeads wash off your body and down the drain, then end up in oceans.

      • Microbeads, and other microplastics absorb harmful chemicals like a sponge. They become over a million times more toxic than the water around them.

      • Fish and other marine life mistake them for food and eat them.

      You can pledge to go #beadfree by only choosing products that are free from microbeads.

      For more information about microbeads and plastic pollution, check out the following websites:

      www.5gyres.org

      www.beatthemicrobead.org