tiny ways to make a difference 2

Say “no thanks” to straws.

Most cafes, restaurants and even takeaway joints offer a free straw with every drink you order – even a glass of water. They’re mostly unnecessary (I know few people who use a straw every time they have a drink at home). By saying “no thanks” to little lumps of plastic several time a day, you’re keeping plenty of non-renewable, non-biodegradable matter out of the carbon cycle.

It’s such an easy little way to make a huge difference.

Some things to think about:

Every straw is made of plastic (non-renewable petroleum-based, and not biodegradable). Most are wrapped in paper which – although eventually biodegradable and possibly pulped from sustainable sources (though we don’t know) – still takes energy (usually non-renewable coal-based electricity and petrol) to manufacture and transport to you, and since it’s highly likely that your scrunched-up straw wrapper will blow away in the wind or be soiled by food or drink before you leave the table, it is unlikely that even the wrapper will ever be recycled.

Try this:

You could do an experiment: physically or mentally keep track of every straw you use for a while (a week, a month, it’s up to you). You’ll be shocked at how quickly they add up and create non-renewable, non-biodegradable clutter in the world. Do you really need this in your life? I don’t. I now enjoy my drinks out just like I enjoy them at home – from the glass. And they’re just as delicious.

Spread the word:

I make a point of saying to the waiter, “Thanks, but I won’t need a straw. They’re terrible for the environment anyway. Maybe you could mention that to your manager? Thanks so much!”

Occasionally I get an odd look, but usually this is met with a smile and understanding. Sometimes I even get special treatment on return visits (“Hello, Straw Lady! Come sit over here by the window!”)

Go ahead. Make a difference.

What are your favourite tiny ways to make a difference?