There was a time in my blurry studenty past when ‘going out’ meant applying mascara with one hand, with a glass of boxed wine in the other, getting sozzled during happy hour and then dancing and singing the night away in the cheese room of some sticky-floored night club. Cocktails always tasted better through those little dinky straws, and why have one when you could have two? A straw in the your bottle of Smirnoff Ice (yes, I really am that old – do they even still sell the stuff?!) meant you could neck it quicker, and if you were unlucky enough to be designated driver, then you’d definitely need a straw in the orange juice and lemonade (or lime and soda, depending on how the overdraft was going).
We Brits get through an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws a year. Each straw is estimated to require approximately 200 years to break down. That is flipping loads of straws. Meanwhile, the small bits that break off get eaten by ocean wildlife, mistaking it as food and either they die from eating plastic, or we eat the fish and the fish are full of plastic. Not good.
I hold my hands up; I have used shed loads of plastic straws in my life, and it makes me shudder. Until now, I had never given the humble straw a second thought and had no idea how terrible they were.
These days, ‘going out’ tends to mean wearing jeans instead of comfy bottoms, and finding a pleasant watering hole that has a large enough open space for the small humans and dog to play happily whilst we grown ups enjoy some long awaited spring sunshine with a yummy pint or glass of pinot noir. Going straw-less? This will be easy!
We arrive at the pub and the kids race off and tear around the massive garden like lunatics. Perfect. “Shall I get them a couple of fruit shoots to keep them going?” asks the hubster as he heads to the bar. “Yes, good idea. NO, WAIT!! BAD IDEA. Plasticky bottles. Let’s get them lime and sodas instead. With no straws.” Gulp. Surely this decision is bound to lead to SPILLAGE and PROTEST. But it feels good to have made a sound, unplasticky choice.
Out come the drinks, and guess what? The kids did not care one bit. Didn’t even flinch. Quick guzzle and off up the trees again and jumping over (or into) the wet, muddy ditch.
On some of the tables nearby there were straws in glasses and one in a bottle. So I brazenly asked the barman why they still used plastic straws. His reply was that they didn’t routinely offer them now, but customers could ask for them if they wanted to. What did he think would happen if they didn’t have any available? He reckoned they would still buy the drinks, but some people got really funny about needing a straw, particularly if they had kids.
But hang on, we have kids, and they actually didn’t really care about the lack of straw. And ironically, its our kids who will suffer eventually, when the oceans are screwed. The cool people who run Bestival have now banned plastic straws. Even the Queen is looking to kick out straws from her Estate tea rooms. And for those who literally can’t do without a straw, you can now get quite trendy reusable glass ones, metal ones, bamboo ones, and paper ones. There is now absolutely no need for places to provide plastic straws. And I don’t think it’s realistic to rely on drunk people to make good ethical choices!
Then I thought about all the other sneaky little straws that creep into our lives on cartons of juice and innocent smoothies… but I reckon we could end this one by simply not buying them. Stay strong, walking past the 2 for 1 offers!!
We could do it. We could definitely go strawless. Absolutely, strawless.
If you like this then please share… if every person can even convince just one more friend to change their habits, we’ll be on our way to a better future.