As of the 1st October, it will be illegal for any business or company to provide straws, drinks stirrers or cotton buds made from plastic, with certain exceptions for people with medical requirements.
According to a report by the BBC, around 4.7 billion plastic straws, 1.8 billion cotton buds and 316 million stirrers are used each year in England alone. Moreover, an estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down the loo directly into water systems. It is easy to assume, even when we recycle plastic, that these items just ‘disappear’ and are no longer our problem; yet, in reality, plastic can take up to 600 years to fully decompose. When plastic items biodegrade, they break down into smaller pieces – microplastics – which emit toxic chemicals and cause pollution to ecosystems.
Much of our plastic ends up in oceans which puts marine animals at risk of consuming the harmful chemicals in microplastics, since they are easily mistaken for food. This can result in plastic entering the food chain and even ending up in some of the food and water we consume.
Try switching to bamboo-stemmed cotton buds or metal straws that can be washed and reused and are altogether less harmful to our climate.
Sign this petition by Friends of the Earth to call upon the government to reduce plastic production and pollution: