We call on the operators of restaurants, bars, cafes and coffee shops across the capital — as well as readers at home — to take The Last Straw pledge now and commit to switching to alternatives that are kinder on the planet.
One of London’s most respected chefs, Michelin-starred Jason Atherton, backed the Standard’s campaign, and said all nine of his London restaurants, including Mayfair flagship Pollen Street Social, would stop offering straws immediately.
He said: “It is heartbreaking to see how much plastic we are using — there is no need for it.”
Some two billion are thought to be thrown away each year in our city — as many as in the whole of Italy — making London the plastic straw capital of Europe. They would have a combined weight of 1,000 tonnes, equivalent to three fully laden jumbo jets.
The Standard’s call to action comes four days after the Government announced plans to eliminate all plastic waste in Britain within 25 years.
While we strongly support the Environment Plan we also believe London can lead the way with voluntary action that can make a difference — starting today.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he was “particularly delighted” to welcome The Last Straw initiative after last week launching the Government’s blueprint, “which encourages everyone to play their part in protecting and enhancing our natural world by helping to reduce the amount of plastic we all use. And giving up plastic straws is an excellent place to start.”
Environmental groups also backed the Standard’s call for straws to be consigned to history. Laura Parry, of the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We fully support the Evening Standard in asking restaurants, pubs and clubs to stop using plastic straws and switch to biodegradable alternatives for those who really need them.
“Our message is if you’re a business, stop handing them out, unless it’s absolutely necessary; and if you’re a consumer, just say no, because you just don’t need it and you’ll be doing the oceans a massive favour.
“Our beach clean volunteers have been finding plastic straws in increasing numbers. Since a video appeared on YouTube of a sea turtle having a straw extracted from its nostril it has become absolutely clear that the random handing out of this single-use plastic item — often used for even less time than a single-use carrier bag or a plastic takeaway cup — must stop now.”
Only a tiny fraction of plastic straws habitually given out with soft drinks, cocktails, even cups of coffee, are recycled due their small size. The rest end up in landfill, or in rivers and ultimately the sea, where they are the fifth most common item of rubbish and are capable of harming marine life. They are used for 20 minutes on average, but take up to 500 years to break down.