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The Last Straw: Why You Should Go ‘Straw-Free’ on Nights Out

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

When pre-ing for a big night out with a fresh face of makeup and a Strongbow in hand, a straw can seem like the perfect tool to make sure you drink without smudging your carefully applied lipstick. However, what you might not know is that innocent-looking tube of plastic is slowly killing our planet.

The UK produces over 500 million plastic straws each day, most of which are only used once before being thrown away. But the biggest problem isn’t the unnecessary wastage of plastic, but the huge amounts of damage that straw cause to marine life. Many straws handed out alongside a double vodka lemonade or a McDonald’s Happy Meal will inevitably find itself in street drains or sewers flowing out into the ocean. Over 60% of all litter washed up on UK beaches consists of plastic, and videos have circulated the internet of turtles having trapped straws extracted from their nostrils. As many people are aware, marine animals such as turtles mistaking plastic objects for food can lead to suffocation, infections and death, and single-use plastic items such as straws make an entirely unnecessary contribution to this epidemic.

In theory, plastic straws are recyclable. However because most people use them in environments such as bars, restaurants and fast-food outlets, they tend not to consider taking the time to locate a recycling bin. Another problem is customers grabbing more straws than they need, or when service staff assume the customer wants a straw and puts one in every drink. Some companies have taken the initiative to cut down on plastic waste by putting in new policies to only give out straws when customers explicitly ask for them, but what can you do to help?

Well, there is a wide variety of websites from which you can purchase re-usable straws made from alternative materials such as stainless steel, glass, or even bamboo.  Re-usable straws are ideal for sipping on your vodka cranberry at pre-drinks, before chucking them in the dishwasher ready for the next use. In addition, by trying to cut down on the amount of straws you use at the bar in clubs or at fast food outlets, or even vow to go completely straw-less, you can make a huge impact!

Here are some links to websites where you can order some re-usable straws: