The Last Straw: Saying No to Single-use Plastic Straws

Plastic is one of the most indestructible threats to our environment. In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the not-so-fantastic truth about plastic, covering the grim reality of plastic pollution in South Africa. We’ve also written about some of the local initiatives that are striving to tackle the country’s plastic pollution problem and how our local plastic industry is currently being disrupted. Today, we’re going to look at how one plastic item is causing mass devastation to our planet and what we can do to put an end to it. That item – you guessed it  – is the plastic straw.

Did you know that every plastic straw that’s ever been made still exists? When one considers the fact that McDonald’s alone uses 60 million straws per day, it’s easy to imagine the enormity of the problem. It’s a shocking reality that billions of straws get used across the globe, daily. These straws cannot be recycled and are manufactured using fossil fuels. Single-use plastic straws contain BPA and release toxins when they are reused or discarded. It is said that plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose and are, unfortunately, one of the most common litter items found on beaches today. Moreover, roughly 80 to 90% of marine debris is made up of plastic which slowly decomposes into microplastics that poison marine life (and humans by extension).

So, what can we do to counteract this problem? For starters, we can simply say no to plastic straws. Keeping a reusable straw in your bag is a small and easy step that can go a really long way as single-use straws are typically used for just a few minutes before they are discarded (though it’s clear that their harmful effects live on long into the future).

Bamboo straws are another practical and sustainable alternative to plastic straws, due to the fact that bamboo grows quickly and biodegrades. Bamboo straws are reusable and organic. They are also easy to clean, dishwasher-friendly and affordable.

We Care Collective is a proud local purveyor of bamboo straws. Claudia Hopkins, the brains behind the project, believes that “doing your bit adds up to a lot” and that everyone has a part to play in improving the state of the world we live in. Claudia was inspired to take action against the use of plastic straws after she watched the viral video of a straw being removed from a sea turtle’s nose.

Since the company’s launch two months ago, We Care Collective has prevented an estimated 20.400 plastic straws from entering landfills. You can purchase their bamboo straws from the following stores in the Western Cape:

Together we can make a difference.