The last straw

Eva Mackinley is a One Young World Ambassador from Hobart, Australia. Eva has just launched ‘The Last Straw’, a campaign aimed at changing consumer behaviour and reducing plastic waste in the hospitality industry.

I have worked in hospitality for years to fund my serial social change volunteerism, but I never saw the link between the two. That is, until one day I was doing what most bartenders are trained to do- putting two straws in a cocktail to serve to someone who immediately took them out and left them on the bar. I remember putting those straws in the bin when it hit me- how many times had I done that exact thing? In my years working behind a bar, how many straws had I been responsible for giving out, just to have them used once and thrown away?

It’s not something we think about often- this disconnect between what we hold in our hands and what it actually means for the world in the long term. Plastic is built to endure the test of time, and those plastic straws I so thoughtlessly threw away are going to outlive me and everyone else on this planet.

Estimates say that in the United States alone 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every single day. Every. Single. Day. Now let’s add in all the straws from all the bars and take-away franchises across Europe, Asia, Africa…you get the picture. That’s a lot of plastic waste going into the ocean and landfill every day.

But the good news is that it’s in our hands just how many straws get used. If we could all take 5 seconds to think about whether we really need that straw, if we all just ordered our drinks without one, the amount of plastic waste could be drastically reduced the world over.

That’s what The Last Straw is all about- we encourage consumers to stop using straws and we work with venues to look at how to reduce their straw output. It seems like such a simple little thing but we can never underestimate the impact of what small actions that are taken the world over can achieve. Nothing changes unless everyone does.

On the surface this campaign is about reducing the use of plastic straws and lowering overall plastic waste. The underlying philosophy is about understanding and thinking more about the life cycle of the things we consume. That straw is used for approximately ten minutes of its centuries-long lifespan, and I don’t even need it to enjoy my drink. These little thoughtless luxuries that we take so much for granted are ruining our world, one straw at a time.

So this is the call- break out of convention. Take 5 seconds to think about the big picture impact of what you buy or use and what that means in the long term. Order your drink without a straw. It’s simple, and it’s going to make the world of difference. | @thelaststrawaus | #thelaststraw | [email protected]