Have you ever thought about what happens to your plastic straw when you finish a drink? The sad truth is that very few straws are recycled and millions end up out at sea, adding to the ever-growing problem of plastic pollution.

Bath-based environmental group Families for a Bright Future is hoping to help tackle this issue by asking cafes, bars and restaurants to stop handing out single-use plastic straws and to consider reusable or biodegradable alternatives, or to stop using straws altogether.

Families for a Bright Future was formed three years ago in Bath when some new mums got chatting about the environment and the sort of world in which their babies would be growing up. Group member, Anna Knollys, explained, “The plastic straws campaign is our first big project, prompted by the increasingly publicised dangers of plastic pollution and the damage it causes to the planet’s oceans, and also by the frustration of repeatedly being given drinks with disposable straws we don’t need. While all plastic waste is a problem, cutting down on single-use drinking straws is an easy place to start when it comes to reducing pollution: so much plastic feels unavoidable, but it is easy to stop handing out – and using – straws.”

Group member, Astrid Van Waveren, added, “One of the major problems with plastic is that it lasts for hundreds of years and will never really biodegrade, a big price to pay for an item like a straw that might only be used for a few minutes. If not properly recycled, it will end up in landfill and can fall into water courses and eventually make its way to the sea.”

“Just take a look at the latest BBC Blue Planet series. Sea turtles have been found with plastic straws in their noses and sea birds have been seen feeding plastic waste to their young, believing it to be food. And with plastic being ingested by fish and humans then eating the fish, this really is a problem that affects all of us.”

Members of Families for a Bright Future, along with their children, have been visiting cafes, bars and restaurants across Bath, asking them to rethink their policies on single-use plastic straws. “From the businesses we have visited so far, several of the smaller chains and independents are now proposing to switch either to paper straws or other biodegradable alternatives,” reports group member Paula Malone. “Some of the big high street names are already making changes, with Wetherspoons, All Bar One and Jamie’s Italian all having said that they are ditching plastic straws, and we hope that others will follow suit, bolstered by campaigns like this which are growing nationally and globally. In November BANES Council resolved to step up the fight against plastic pollution, commending and encouraging campaigns by local groups like ours.”

The group’s aim is to have plastic free areas across Bath and to start linking up and working with other environmental and community groups. It also aims to start visiting schools to talk about the project and see how schools can get involved. In the meantime it has set up a map of establishments in Bath that are committed to stopping or phasing out the use of plastic straws and this can be found at https://thelaststrawbath.wordpress.com/

Anyone who would like to support the campaign can help just by remembering to say “No straw” next time they buy a drink, or by visiting establishments that have committed to phasing out plastic straws. The group would also very much welcome new members and families, who can contact them by email at email hidden; JavaScript is required or through Facebook at https://en-gb.facebook.com/familiesforabrightfuture/

Photo Artur Lesniak/Bath Chronicle