England to cut straws and ban plastic drink stirrers

In England, the government will be banning plastic drink stirrers and implementing controls on the use of straws and plastic cotton buds from next year, all in a move aimed at protecting our oceans.

“That’s great,” you might say.

“But why ban straws to save fish when you won’t stop eating fish to save fish?”

Ah! It appears you, too, know how to use the Internet.

We’ve all seen the memes, and we get it, really. But a plastic ban is better than no plastic ban, right?

Here’s what’s happening. England is saying goodbye to plastic drink stirrers. As of 2020, they’re finished, so use your fingers, mate.

Plastic Stirrers and Straws

While the same cannot be said for plastic straws, there is good reason. The sale of the products will be heavily regulated, but they will still be available through pharmacies and online, allowances made to accommodate those who need them due to physical disabilities.

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds, on the other hand, will be made totally unavailable to the public. That said, they will still be allowed in labs for use in medical and scientific research.

While this surely is a landmark move in terms of plastic-waste reduction, it is also true that these small plastic items represent a fraction of the problem, while waste from marine industries makes up the bulk of it. So, here we are at the fishing bit. See? We got there.

Statistics do indeed suggest that we should also leave fish off of our plates if we aim to get serious about saving our oceans. While one 2018 study found that most of the 42,000 metric tons of plastic waste that make up the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is abandoned fishing gear, we’re still estimated to be killing between one and 2.7 trillion fish each year.

That amounts to a whole lot of plastic (and suffering, if we’re being honest). It’s kind of a bummer, so maybe the Internet’s on to something.

Header image: Yulia YasPe/Shutterstock.com/Living Vegan
Body image: Viktoriia Novokhatska/Shutterstock.com

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