Young campaigners from two Scottish primary schools are helping to make Ullapool the first plastic straw free village in the United Kingdom.
All 14 bars, restaurants and cafes in the village are now using non-plastic alternatives, or have stopped offering drinking straws altogether. The last remaining outlet, the town’s supermarket, has agreed to stop stocking plastic straws early in 2018.
In September pupils from Ullapool Primary School joined forces with Glasgow’s Sunnyside Primary School to lobby local businesses as part of the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.
The children were supported in their efforts by our Living Seas Communities Officer Noel Hawkins, who said: “This achievement is wholly down to pupil-power. The children from Sunnyside Primary School have done a great deal to raise awareness within Glasgow and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the local kids when they came to Ullapool in September.
“The pupils went door to door to speak directly to businesses, and this has clearly had an impact. I’d like to thank everyone involved for taking action after listening to the concerns of these youngsters.
“Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas. Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because alternative products are available.
“This may only be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas, but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool it can work anywhere. All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant.”
Ullapool Primary School pupil Caillín Erin Patterson said: “There’s no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn’t be a throwaway one. We’re killing our seas with single-use plastic and it’s just not necessary.”
A spokesperson for the Seaforth Hotel said: “The Seaforth is proud to be a part of the #NaeStrawsAtAw campaign. We’re thrilled that the children from Ullapool [rimary and Sunnyside primary are making such a huge difference.
“The Seaforth is passionate about keeping the oceans clean. We have a great history in fishery and we are well know for our delicious Seafood dishes. We will continue to support Ullapool primary and Sunnyside primary in their campaign. Fantastic work!”
The Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the initiative, saying: “Congratulations to the Ullapool community for recognising the problem of plastic straws and taking action. This is an example to communities across the country of the bold steps they can take to protect our marine environment.”
An average of 138 pieces of food and drink-related waste, including plastic straws, were found on every 100 metres of UK beaches during this year’s Great British Clean. According to a comprehensive assessment published by the IUCN around 8 million tons of plastic are released into the world’s oceans every year.