De-Straw campaign gaining momentum

De-Straw campaign gaining momentum
Silent killer: an estimated eight million tonnes of single-use plastic ends up in the ocean each year.

The De-Straw or Destroy campaign is gaining momentum in the Bay of Plenty where more than 20 Mount Maunganui restaurants and bars have now committed to being plastic straw free, in a bid to protect their local paradise.
The campaign was started by The Rising Tide general manager Lisa Rooney and two staff members Mikayla Haggo – who studies biodiversity, eco-science, and law at Victoria University – and Kiran Cunningham ,who has been actively involved in reducing plastic waste in Mount Maunganui.
“A year ago we decided to start gradually getting rid of plastic straws at The Rising Tide,” Lisa says. “At first we provided plastic straws when requested, then none at all, then we provided paper straws for cocktails and milkshakes.
We have recently started using non-soggy hospitality grade paper straws from CaliWoods.” The De-Straw or Destroy campaign was launched in February.
“This campaign is by hospos, for hospos,” Lisa says. “Our very kind owners Virginia and Glenn Meikle have allowed us to work on this, and have invested a lot in helping us make it happen.”
Lisa used plastic straws herself until two years ago, and was prepared for some backlash to her campaign. “Most people aren’t educated, so all we need to do is explain why we’re doing it.”
She says about 1 million seabirds and 10,000 marine animals die every year because of plastic pollution in our oceans.
“30 million tonnes of plastic are made every year, and we have made more plastic in the past 10 years than we have in the past century.
“Half the plastic made today is single use plastic, such as plastic shopping bags which have an average lifespan of 15 minutes, and eight million tonnes goes into the ocean each year.”
De-Straw or Destroy kicked off with a screening of the documentary A Plastic Ocean at The Rising Tide, and continued with beach clean-ups at Mount Maunganui and Papamoa organised by The Rising Tide and Papamoa Beach Tavern.
“The Mount is completely surrounded by ocean, and everyone in town is really big on protecting that,” Lisa says. “One of the biggest problems is people thinking someone else will do something, or they are only one person and can’t make a difference.
“We have challenged a lot of perspectives. Imagine if that one thing you picked up would have wrapped around the neck of a seal. “Imagine if one million people had the same idea and picked up some rubbish. It really does make a difference.”
At the end of March, The Rising Tide held the Protect Our Paradise benefit concert, where donations went straight to the De-Straw or Destroy campaign to help Bay of Plenty businesses go single-use plastic free.
Lisa and The Rising Tide team’s goal moving forward is the organisation of more local ocean-bed clean ups, and for De-Straw or Destroy to become a charitable trust focused on keeping the momentum going as “a local campaign within a global movement”
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