Britain is banning plastic straws

By Switch Support Collaborator

Britain is banning plastic straws

Britain is banning plastic straws — and asking Canada to join


WATCH ABOVE: Plastic straw ban? Trudeau will look to G7 leaders to take the lead

Britain plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and is pressing other Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, to join.

Plastic straws have been a hot-button issue for environmental for video of marine biologists removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril went viral online.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eradicate plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action.”

Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting,” May said in a statement ahead of a Commonwealth summit.

Leaders from the Commonwealth — a network of 53 countries, mostly former British colonies — are meeting in London this week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also there and on Thursday was asked if he would join Britain in the ban.

Trudeau skirted the question, but did say he will “talk about this with the G7 nations and look at the solutions.”

The ban also includes products such as cotton swabs, which are often flushed down the toilet, get into water systems, and then pose a threat to marine life and birds who may try to eat it.

READ MORE: California servers could be jailed for giving plastic straws to customers under new bill

Britain’s announcement comes after many restaurants in the U.K. have already banned single-use plastic straws. On Wednesday, McDonald’s in Britain said it would start using drinking straws made from paper.

Plastic straws have already been banned in several U.S. cities, such as Seattle, Miami Beach and Malibu, Calif.

Toronto restaurants hoping to ban plastic straws

The movement of eliminating plastic straws also made its way to several Canadian cities.

READ MORE: Toronto restaurants pushing for elimination of plastic straws to reduce waste

A project called, The Law Straw Toronto encourages bars and restaurants in the city to go straw-free.

Using the hashtag #StopSuckingToronto, over 100 restaurants, including Hemingway’s on Cumberland Street and the Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District, have jumped on board the initiative.

A growing number of bars and restaurants in Vancouver have also started banning straws. The city is not calling for an outright ban, but is proposing that servers ask customers whether they want to have a straw with their cocktails.

Vancouver’s plan follows other cities that have taken aim at plastic waste. Victoria is set to ban plastic shopping bags in July after Montreal abolished them in January.

The growing ban on plastic straws comes as United Nations figures show eight million tonnes of plastic — bottles, packaging and other waste  enter the ocean each year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.

READ MORE: Mutant enzyme that ‘eats’ plastic bottles could be a game-changer, scientists say

It takes plastic straws and stirrers up to 200 years to biodegrade.

Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.


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By Ultimate Straw



Single-use plastic is a particularly nasty form of plastic. These items have a shockingly short lifespan, normally used once and then discarded to landfill. Like other plastics, they never biodegrade and take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic straws are one such single-use item, and are ending up in our oceans by the thousands.

Plastic straws made the 'top ten' items picked up on beach clean ups, and it's not hard to see why. Avid scuba diver Kasey Turner was snorkeling after work recently at a popular dive site in Manly, Australia. In the area she found 319 straws on a single 20-minute snorkel. 24 hours later Kasey went back and did another and found 294 in the exact same place.

The following weekend, inspired by Kasey's actions, I jumped in for a dive and found another 150, highlighting just how quickly these plastic pollution accumulates.

Why are straws so damaging to the marine environment?

Disposable straws are usually made from plastic and plastic never breaks down. As time goes by plastic will separate into smaller and smaller pieces, but never completely biodegrades.

In USA alone, 500 million straws are used every single day. We use straws for around twenty minutes before we toss them away, which is an astonishingly quick lifespan for an item that will be on the planet forever. Straws also contain BPA, and can't be recycled.

It can be hard to see how using one measly plastic straw is going to cause huge amounts of damage to the environment, but let me put in to context for you. Recently a team of scientists in Costa Rica came across an endangered species of sea turtle with what they thought was a parasitic worm blocking its airway. They realised it was actually a plastic straw. Hours from veterinary help, the scientists successfully dislodged the straw themselves and released the turtle back into the ocean. The team filmed their efforts, and you can watch the grim ordeal below.

While watching a distressed turtle have a straw pulled out of its nose isn't the most feel good viewing, footage like this plays an important and vital role in regards to raising awareness. This clip had more than 5 million views, and shows exactly what can happen if your discarded plastic straw makes its way into the ocean. Making a connection between our actions and the often-devastating outcomes they can have on the environment acts as a catalyst for change.

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Say 'see ya later' to straws

The simplest way you can eradicate straws from your life is to just stop using them at home. It's as easy as that.

When you're out and about, things can get a little trickier. When I'm at after work drinks I always ask the bartender to hold the straw. You might be met with a quizzical expression, but this is a great way to strike up a conversation with someone who might not be aware of the impact plastic straws have on the environment.

Cafes and restaurants are becomingly increasingly conscious of environmental issues, so creating a dialogue with your local barista or barman around the problem of single-use plastic is the first step towards initiating change.

But I love straws!

If you like slurping a smoothie through a straw that is totally ok! There are plenty of alternatives to disposable plastic straws available. Many retailers today stock glass, stainless steel, and bamboo straws. Biome has a huge reusable straw range that you can check out. Keeping one in a cutlery wrap and chucking it in your handbag means you'll never be caught out sans straw!

Educating your friends and family about how silly straws truly are will help motivate them to make the switch to straw-free. I'll admit it; I've used the line "that straw could end up in a turtles nose!" more times than I can count.

Saying no to straws seems like such a simple action, and it is. But actions like these really do make an enormous difference to our environment. Just ask that Costa Rican sea turtle.

Read this next: 15 Practical Tips for Living with Less Plastic

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Canada Banning Plastic Drink Straws?

By Ultimate Straw

Canada Banning Plastic Drink Straws?

By now you've probably seen a lot of press about how terrible plastic straws are for the environment. It's actually kind of ridiculous when you think about it. These things serve no actual purpose, and we use and discard half a billion of them every day. 

Seeing as they are made from plastic they just fill up landfills and our oceans, contributing to our global problem with pollution. I've seen tons of people take up challenges to go a week without using straws, or trying to convince other people to do the same.

It's actually pretty difficult if you eat out a lot because people will always give you a straw. If you get a Starbucks drink, straw. If you get a cocktail at a bar, straw. It's hard to escape. But you can ask them not to give you one. It's really not that difficult to drink off the rim. We are just used to these damn things.

Well, apparently the talk of banning plastic straws in Canada may be in the works. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet 100% confirmed whether or not he supports the ban on plastic straws, but at his meeting with the G7 leaders this Spring, he plans on discussing the idea.

They will be meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec from June 8, 2018, to June 9, 2018. G7 meetings are extremely significant because, in case you didn't know, the G7 is made up of the United States, Japan, Italy, Germany, the UK, France, and Canada. Significant world leaders meet to discuss significant issues, like plastic waste. 

@justinpjtrudeauembedded via  

What reporters were able to get out of him is that Canada plans on making the protection of oceans central to its G7 presidency, with particular attention on plastic waste. That sounds like a step in the right direction if you ask me.

One thing that definitely looks positive is the fact that Trudeau's British counterpart Theresa May has said that her government is beginning to make a plan to ban straws and other single-use plastics, like drink stirrers and cotton swabs. Given its significant environmental impacts, they have pledged to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Trudeau is aware and concerned about the effect that microplastics are having on the oceans, and wants to consider a lot of suggestions when it comes to solving this issue. Banning pollutant plastics is just one of them.

This motion to ban plastics calls for more strict regulations that are being put in place to reduce the use of both consumer and industrial levels. And itès not just about plastic straws. This will apply to plastic bags, bottles, tableware, cigarette fillers, drink containers, you name it.

Trudeau and his government have already made moves to ban plastic microbeads in body and bath products, so this is just another step in the same direction.


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National Geographic Launches “Planet or Plastic?” Initiative

By Ultimate Straw

National Geographic Launches “Planet or Plastic?” Initiative

WASHINGTON (May 16, 2018)— As the amount of single-use plastic in the world’s oceans continues to grow, National Geographic is announcing a new, global commitment to tackle this pressing problem. Today, National Geographic is launching Planet or Plastic?, a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness of this challenge and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that enters in the world’s oceans. Doing so will not only benefit the thousands to potentially millions of marine animals that become entangled in, suffocated by, or ingest plastic each year, but will also contribute to the overall health of the planet’s marine ecosystems and all who rely upon them.

National Geographic Magazine

June 2018 issue of National Geographic.

As a global brand with a rich history of scientific discovery and exploration, National Geographic is uniquely positioned to tackle this crisis in a way that only National Geographic can — through storytelling and science. The Planet or Plastic? initiative will leverage the power of National Geographic’s media portfolio around the world and the expertise of National Geographic’s explorers and scientists who are witnessing firsthand the devastating impacts of this crisis. This organization-wide effort will include a major research and scientific initiative; a consumer education and engagement campaign; updated internal corporate sustainability commitments; and innovative partnerships with like-minded corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the world.

Today’s launch is tied to the release of the June issue of National Geographic magazine, which takes an in-depth look at the role single-use plastics play in our society and the impact they are having on our environment. Starting with this issue, National Geographic announced that it will begin wrapping the U.S., U.K. and India subscriber editions of the magazine in paper instead of plastic, with the goal of wrapping all global editions in paper by the end of 2019. The June issue is available online at on May 16 and on print newsstands on May 29.

Each year, 9 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Some estimates suggest this plastic could remain in marine environments for 450 years or longer, and the problem is only getting worse. Addressing a challenge of this magnitude requires an unprecedented approach. In concert with the release of the June magazine, the Planet or Plastic? initiative will also kick off with the following:

  • PLANET OR PLASTIC? PLEDGE: Starting today, National Geographic will ask audiences around the world to take the Planet or Plastic? pledge, a commitment to reduce their use of single-use plastic. By taking the pledge, individuals will become part of a global community working together to stem the tide of single-use plastic polluting the ocean and will continue to receive information and tips to help them in their efforts. The pledge marks the beginning of a comprehensive consumer awareness and engagement campaign that National Geographic will execute across its multiple platforms in the months and years to come. Elements of this campaign will range from inspiring and informative content, ongoing consumer engagement activities, events and more.
  • SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION: The nonprofit National Geographic Society will embark on a journey to better document how plastic travels from source to sea and to fill critical knowledge gaps. Starting with an initial expedition in 2019 to study the type and flow of plastic in a river system, National Geographic will provide science-based, actionable information to help local and national governments, NGOs, businesses and the public more effectively invest in and implement innovative solutions. The Society is also sourcing solutions to the challenge of plastic waste through an existing Reducing Marine Plastic Pollution Request for Proposal (RFP).
  • THREE-DAY SOCIAL TAKEOVER: As the No. 1 social media brand, National Geographic will use the power and reach of its platforms to educate people about the impact of single-use plastic and to encourage them to take the pledge. For the next three days, National Geographic will “pollute” its Instagram feed, @natgeo, with photos of the plastics crisis as well as animated Instagram stories to highlight the true impact of humanity’s pollution of the natural world. Today, @natgeo will feature photos taken by photographer Randy Olson, who traveled around the world to document the plastics crisis and is featured in the June issue of the magazine. On Thursday, May 17, actress and singer Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl,” She & Him), co-founder of The Farm Project, which recently commissioned the series, Your Food’s Roots, will curate National Geographic’s Instagram account, posting photos of the plastic crisis. On Friday, May 18, National Geographic’s photographers will be posting their own photos of the crisis. Also on Friday, Kathryn Kellogg, a writer and public speaker who lives a “zero-waste” lifestyle and focuses on the dangers of plastic pollution, will host a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about small, actionable eco-friendly steps that people can take in their everyday lives. Kellogg, who is featured in the June issue of National Geographic, has fit all of the trash that she has generated at home in the last two years into a 16-ounce jar.
  • SKY COLLABORATIONSky Media and National Geographic are joining forces in the fight to eradicate the destructive impact of plastic litter in the world’s oceans. National Geographic has committed $10 million to support the activities of Sky Ocean Ventures, an initiative launched by Sky Media to seek out investment opportunities in businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis. Bringing to bear National Geographic’s scientific expertise, grants and media reach, the collaboration will identify and champion projects and groundbreaking technologies designed to reduce plastic waste and its impact on oceans. It will also support a series of events with industry leaders, corporations, institutions and foundations, engaging them around the issue of marine plastic pollution. Collectively, this new collaboration will create the largest global media campaign to date to reduce plastic litter in the ocean.
  • CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPSNational Geographic will seek out and partner with a number of like-minded corporations and organizations that are committed to raising awareness about the enormity of the ocean plastic issue as well as to finding solutions. For example, The North Face, who is partnering with National Geographic to introduce a limited Bottle Source Collection, featuring shirts made from recycled plastic bottles diverted from National Park waste streams.  The shirts will be available for purchase at on May 23. S’well and National Geographic will unveil an assortment of co-branded bottles available for purchase beginning in June 2018.
  • INTERNAL COMMITMENT: Finally, National Geographic will be taking steps to reduce its own reliance on single-use plastics. Starting with the June issue and moving forward, those who subscribe to the U.S., U.K. and India editions of National Geographic magazine will receive their issues wrapped in paper instead of plastic. This change will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month. By the end of 2019, all global editions will be wrapped in paper instead of plastic. This is just one of many steps National Geographic is taking to reduce its own single-use plastic consumption. Over the next month, National Geographic will initiate a third-party audit of its single-use plastic use and will develop a timeline and action plan to further minimize single-use plastics in the workplace.

“For 130 years, National Geographic has documented the stories of our planet, providing audiences around the world with a window into the earth’s breathtaking beauty as well as to the threats it faces,” said Gary E. Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners. “Each and every day, our explorers, researchers and photographers in the field witness firsthand the devastating impact of single-use plastic on our oceans, and the situation is becoming increasingly dire. Through the Planet or Plastic? initiative, we will share the stories of this growing crisis, work to address it through the latest science and research, and educate audiences around the world about how to eliminate single-use plastics and prevent them from making their way into our oceans.”

Added Jonathan Baillie, the National Geographic Society’s chief scientist and senior vice president, science and exploration: “By harnessing National Geographic’s scientific expertise, we intend to pinpoint activities on land, particularly near rivers, that contribute to the flow of plastics polluting our oceans — and then use what we learn to inspire change at home and around the world. A crisis of this enormity requires solutions at scale, and National Geographic is uniquely qualified to amass the best in research, technology, education and storytelling to effect meaningful change.”

The efforts announced today are just the beginning of this multiyear initiative. Next month, National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in New York City’s Times Square, an entertaining and immersive adventure across the ocean from the South Pacific to the coast of California, will highlight this initiative during World Oceans Day on June 8. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle will also be in New York City for the festivities to raise awareness about the damaging impact of plastic pollution in our world’s fragile oceans. On June 15, National Geographic will host a “Party for the Planet” as part of its annual Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C., a night dedicated to the elimination of single-use plastic.

Get the latest updates on Planet or Plastic? HERE and join the conversation on social via #planetorplastic. 

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 130 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information, visit or, or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.


About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. The Society aspires to create a community of change, advancing key insights about the planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time, all while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Its goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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