What is the The Final Straw? The definition from the Cambridge dictionary is as follows:
“ the last in a series of unpleasant events that finally makes you feel that you cannot continue to accept a bad situation”
So what makes somebody decide that something is so bad they feel compelled to start a campaign to do something about it? For me it happened on Sunday 26th March 2017, Mothering Sunday, when I visited a Falmouth Poly Cinema to watch a special screening of A Plastic Ocean, followed by a Q&A session with Jo Ruxton, Co-Director of the film.
I was shocked and sickened to watch the global tragedy unfold – beautiful Pacific islands covered in plastic, children living on plastic islands in Indonesia, plastic bottles littering the deepest ocean floors. Seabirds ingesting so much plastic that their stomachs are full of it and they starve to death, whales opening their mouths wide to eat krill and swallowing plastic bags which block their stomachs and stop digestion. Whole islands or gyres of tiny plastic pieces collecting in seas around the world, transported by ocean currents forming floating rubbish tips – I could go on but I think you have by now probably understood how awful I found it to watch.
Jo’s message was simple – we have to stop using single use plastics – plastic bags, throwaway coffee cups, straws, bottled water and the like – all of which are designed to be used once and thrown away, many of which end up in our oceans, where they will remain for eternity. Every piece of plastic ever produced is still on the planet, except those that have been burnt.
The film profoundly affected me. I felt guilty for contributing to this mess which has happened in my lifetime and for the legacy of blighted seas and pollution that would be handed over to my children and grandchildren. I could not just stand by and let it happen now that I knew how bad things were, so I decided to reduce my own and my business’s reliance on single use plastic and to work out ways that I might influence others to do the same.
Much research followed and I was amazed to find a worldwide network of organisations full of passionate people spreading the word about plastic pollution. Closer to home I shared the story with Jo and James at Idenna Creative Agency and we hatched an idea which we hope will make a start on the long road to ending our love affair with unnecessary plastic – The Final Straw Cornwall. We are concentrating on Cornwall to begin with, as we believe that convincing Cornish hospitality businesses to stop serving plastic straws is an achievable ambition.
Hopefully something so simple will then start people considering their usage of other single use plastics such as bottled water, packaging, coffee cups, plastic bags and so on, to stem the tide of the constant stream of plastic items we use for a few minutes and casually throw away. There is no’ Away’! Everything we dispose of has to go somewhere – incineration (harmful toxic gases) landfill, recycling or just thrown down as litter which is unfortunately carried by rain to rivers and streams to the sea where it is causing untold damage to marine life.
It is estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used in the USA per DAY, that’s equivalent to 125 double decker buses full or enough to stretch 2.5 times around the world. It seems crazy to pollute the seas with a product which is absolutely useless. Nobody will lose sleep if they don’t drink their drink through a straw and to this end we are asking hospitality businesses and the general public in Cornwall to stop using plastic straws. There are paper, bamboo or metal alternatives which do not last for 500 years when they are disposed of, so please let’s consider the planet instead of ourselves for a change.
We are asking people to sign up and take the pledge to avoid plastic straws so we can all help make our world a less polluted place for generations to come…
Pat Smith, 69 year old grandmother of 4, Ambassador for CoAST project and partner in Bosinver Farm Cottages, St Austell – VisitEngland’s Family Friendly Accommodation of the Year Winner 2017