A group of London restaurateurs has started a war: on straws to be precise.
Straw Wars is a campaign to get all the restaurants in Soho, in the heart of central London, to give up straws, and not just for Lent. It's good for everyone: less waste, less garbage, less expense and good for the environment.The idea is simple – restaurants either get rid of straws completely or provide a straw only when requested by a customer. If they want one, all they have to do is ask. It’s that easy.
So far, 28 restaurants have signed up, including some very fashionable ones. Although the campaign is limited to central London, it is already spreading to other parts of the city.
Why bother? Because billions of straws are discarded every year, they end up in landfills and littering oceans. Plastic straws can, theoretically, be recycled but they rarely are. Many are thrown away by people eating fast food as they walk along the street. Since plastics don't degrade, they last for ages.
There is one problem however: McDonald’s. In the UK they serve 3.5m drinks--with-straws--every day. And usually the straws are in help-yourself containers, so customers can, and do, take as many as they want.
Representatives from the Marine Conservation Society are delighted with the move: "We see so much single use plastic appear in the sea and on beaches in our surveys. Many plastic straws on beaches are likely to come from street drains, often via rivers and sewers. Plastic is a huge problem for our marine wildlife and makes up over 60% of all the litter we find on UK beaches."
Not everyone is so impressed. Others argue that restaurants can do more with their operations that would be a whole lot more beneficial to the environment than just urging people not to suck on a straw.
It's a simple idea, the best ones often are. Let's wish these fledgling eco-restaurateurs good luck, and reject straws whenever we can. But surely we can demand some bigger changes too.