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Posted : November 30, 2017

The festive season is upon us, and for many this means meeting up with friends and family and celebrating the year. However, an additional item is often found in one’s drink – the single-use plastic straw. Litter Free Dorset and Litter Free Coast & Sea, partnership organisations that work with local community groups, businesses and volunteers to reduce litter, are today launching their Christmas campaign, #TheLastStraw.

Straws are usually made from plastic, used for a short length of time, and in the UK and the USA alone we throw away 550 million plastic straws a day.

Earlier this year, JD Wetherspoon announced that they would no longer automatically put single-use plastic straws in drinks. Come January 2018 they will instead use paper straws. Charlie Wild, Litter Free Project Officer said “This heightened awareness of single-use items has come thick and fast this year – straws are just next in line. They are a very quick and simple win for businesses to change – either by getting rid of them totally or switching to alternatives.”

And local businesses are reacting to the public. After watching a documentary around the issue of plastic in the ocean, Lisa Loader, owner of Soulshine Café in Bridport said “Two of the top items found in the sea are plastic bags and plastic straws. I just decided to start somewhere. Even if it was just in my café with hundreds of people coming through the door, that’s a start. We don’t really need plastic bags or straws. Sipping isn’t that much of an inconvenience!” Soulshine have straws – but only bamboo and metal ones that can be reused. Other establishments like Boscanova in Bournemouth made the choice earlier this year to simply remove straws altogether.

Wimborne War on Waste, a local community group based up in Wimborne said “Plastic straws are one of our real hates. They are so unnecessary and they are often put into drinks without asking if you want them first. There are so many alternatives – stainless steel, bamboo, paper or glass. Plastic straws suck. We are working with pubs in Wimborne to remove plastic straws, so please visit The Thirsty Bird, The White Hart, The Taphouse and The Gin House in Wimborne for a plastic-free experience and tell them how great they are!”

The latest data from the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean for 2017 that has just been released, saw plastic straws still in the top 10 items that were found during the beach cleans. Charlie said “straws are something we constantly find on our beach cleans and litter picks here in Dorset.  They are an item used on average for 20 minutes and then discarded, but far too often end up as litter in our green spaces and on the beach. All straws ever made still exist – as they are made up out of plastic they just break up into smaller and smaller pieces. We are linking up with the NUS who are working nationally to get people to have #TheLastStraw. We have a pledge to sign up to on our website, along with some tips – the simplest being to just say no to the straw!”

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