In this three-part series, Hanna Glover finds out how Bath is taking a stand against reducing plastic waste in more ways than one. First up, she tackles the ‘new normal’ of paper straws.
Plastic waste is a huge issue, with an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic finding its way to the ocean each year. Single use plastic straws are gradually being banned by some UK companies, as it’s revealed we throw away 8.5 billion a year.
On a not-so-exciting Thursday evening I found myself with some friends at Wetherspoons, like any other typical student in Bath. We ordered our drinks and grabbed the paper straws on the counter. Halfway through our meal, one of my friends started talking the about the straws. I complained how soggy mine had become in my drink, and said something along the lines of: “Why can’t they have normal straws?”
It wasn’t until I did my research that it sunk in: no plastic straws = less plastic waste. I discovered that J.D. Wetherspoons, along with other restaurants and pubs in Bath had been banning the use of plastic straws. Instead of wasting countless straws, Wetherspoons, inspired by the movement The Last Plastic Straw, has now replaced them with biodegradable paper straws with the hopes to stop around 70 million plastic straws from filling up landfills or in many cases, finding their way into the ocean causing damage to sea life.
Other places who are also taking this initiative include (but are not limited to): Bath Brew House, Beyond the Kale, and the Cork. Hopefully as time goes on more restaurants and pubs will take similar measures. Most places serving drinks have made a good start by keeping straws behind the bar, to discourage people from simply taking one without thinking of the consequential waste.
However, if you don’t find yourself at one of these fine establishments, you can still do your part to reduce plastic waste simply by asking the bartender to not put a straw in your drink, or if you get takeaway ask them to not include plastic cutlery. Alternatively, you can start carrying your own reusable straws. These are often metal and usually come with a handy brush for cleaning.