Don’t get too attached to your straw.
At least, if you’re a U.K. citizen it’s possible you’ll be going without drink straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, if a newly-proposed ban goes through. During the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government on Thursday in London, a proposal was announced to phase out single-use plastics, which cannot be recycled and contribute to ocean deterioration, damaging ecosystems and wildlife. In the U.K., about 23 million straws are used and discarded daily. In the U.S., it’s 500 million.
“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,” Prime Minister Theresa May said. The U.K. has already moved forward on charging for single-use plastic bags and banning microbeads in products; the straws, stirrers and swabs would add to this incremental work. According to a U.K. government report on the future of the seas, nearly 70% of the litter in the oceans comes from plastics.
The U.N. environment chief has called the current status of plastic pollution an “ocean Armageddon.” But a recent U.N. resolution to work towards specific plastic waste goals was rejected by the U.S. and China. In lieu of global binding action, countries like the U.K. and individual establishments around the world are choosing to make small steps towards eliminating plastics. The cause has been supported by the voices of celebrities like Adrian Grenier, who launched a campaign to encourage drinkers to “stop sucking” — which is something you can do whether or not there’s a ban in place.