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. 


      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.

      Make A Splash: 5 Ways We Can All Help Our Oceans

      We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our ocean. Why? Because our ocean is absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the ocean. ” – Secretary of State John Kerry

      No water, no life. No blue, no green. ” –  Sylvia Earle

      The health of our oceans is crucial to all life; there is no denying that oceans hold huge importance. Ocean health matters. And right now the statistics are both depressing and worrying. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (5gyres) and humans have managed to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s top predators in the past 55 years (Oceana).

      If we all work together, scientists believe ocean health can be restored. Many of our world leaders are starting to recognise this and are taking action to protect and restore our oceans. For example, France has just declared a ban on single-use plates, cups and utensils from 2020, UK are following USA in banning microbeads and 100+ commitments totaling over $4.8 billion were made at Our Ocean conference in Washington DC, including the creation of 40 new or expanded marine protected areas. That is exciting news for ocean health! 

      But there is so much more to do.

      Here are some practical ways we can all help to protect and restore our oceans in everyday life…

      1. Reduce, refuse and reuse.

      Reduce your use of single-use plastics. Bags, cutlery, straws, cups, water bottles and containers all massively contribute to ocean pollution and harm ocean life. Plastic is meant to last, so using it for throw-away items is simply poor product design. Recycling helps of course, but even that has plenty of pitfalls, so is better as a back-up when using plastic can’t be avoided. Making more sustainable choices, such as refusing single-use plastic items and investing in reusable alternatives  is an excellent high impact way of helping our oceans.

      Pledge to go #strawless with The Lonely Whale Foundation.

      Take the #plasticfree pledge with 5gyres.


      2. Check your seafood supply.

      Choosing sustainable seafood is important because much of the world’s fish supply is under threat from over fishing. When you add in the issue of climate change and pollution, that is a huge problem for the future of fish on the menu.

      Check out Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay aquarium for more about sustainable seafood. 

      Marine Conservation Society also has useful information about how to make good choices when it comes to seafood. www.goodfishguide.org 


      3. Ban microbeads from your home.

      Choose products that do not contain microbeads. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up. They wash off down the drain, then end up in oceans, where they become extremely toxic. They are eaten by fish and other marine life, which causes harm to other life and damages our own food supply too. There are movements to ban microbeads in UK and USA but this has not yet come into force and other countries are yet to follow suit. Removing microbeads from your home could save literally thousands of microbeads from entering our waterways PER DAY.

      Find out which products do not contain microbeads www.beatthemicrobead.org


      4. Switch energy suppliers.

      Switching from fossil fuels to a green energy supplier is not only good for the environment but could also save you money too! 

      Climate-changing gases from offshore oil and other fossil fuels are changing ocean chemistry, saturating the oceans with carbon dioxide and making them increasingly acidic.

      Acidification is already leading to the degradation of coral reef habitats and negatively impacting some commercially important fisheries, like shellfish.” – Oceana

      I personally switched to Good Energy but there are various clean energy companies to choose from. Making the switch is usually quick and easy but makes a massive difference.


      5. Donate…

      Monetary donations are one thing, but donating can come in many other forms too. One of the most powerful things anyone can donate- for free- is your voice. Sign petitions, share campaigns and start conversations. 

      Ocean Unite has a list of actions, as do many other charities and organisations.

      Time is another resource that can be donated, such as helping to clean up our beaches. See SAS (UK) and Ocean Conservancy for more information on organised beach clean ups. 

      Or you could even donate your art! Visit Lonely Whale for further details or to donate.

       

      Last but not least, share how you #MakeASplash to protect our oceans!


      This article was written in dedication to #MakeASplash campaign. Thank you to the organisations and charities mentioned for inspiring and teaching me about our oceans.