A real horror story: What has a stroll along a beach got to do with plastic straws? Well, it got me thinking about plastic in the sea and the facts are shocking. According to StrawlessOcean.org more than 70% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have ingested plastic straws. The result is a 50% chance of death. A staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic is thrown into the sea, and it will increase. Straws contribute towards  the top ten offenders, however, there is something we can do about it.

Millions of UK children drink school milk in cartons with plastic straws attached every week. What are the alternatives?

Biodegradable plastic straws – just as harmful as they only break down under certain conditions.

Compostable plastic straws – again, only begin to biodegrade under favourable conditions, otherwise they end up in the ocean and remain as harmful as plastic.

Paper straws – do not like being wet! Also children find it hard to pierce a hole with.

Pasta straws – tricky if you are gluten intolerant, and I am told it takes a while to drink from because the hole is narrow,

Straw straws – yes, they do exist, and I am informed that they easily split in contact with milk.

The point is that single-use plastic is just unacceptable.


What to do?

The children of a school in the West Country wrote to their supplier ‘Cool Milk’ who happen to be part of a government sponsored scheme. The school expressed their concerns about the impact upon the environment and requested an alternative to plastic straws. The outcome was milk delivered in recyclable containers without straws. Staff simply pour the milk into beakers. The supplier is now looking into reusable straws…that’s another story.

The point is we can all make a change in small steps to reduce plastic waste destroying the natural world. I want to walk along the sea and know that marine life is safe. When we return to school next week I pledge to take up this challenge and end the use of single-use plastic straws.

I hope readers will think about doing this too.