Plastic straws, do we need them?
You may remember from our last post “A Plastic Free Gambia” we talked about our plans to make The Gambia a more sustainable destination through a more responsible approach to using single-use plastics.
Today we are continuing from there and looking at what we consider to be two of the worst culprits or best examples of bad plastics. They are plastic straws and clingfilm.
The plastic straw, what are our alternatives?
Do we really need a plastic straw at all? Some would say: “no, we don’t”. But, for now, I think it’s too much to ask for Mr & Mrs Jo Public to stop using them.
It may surprise you but there are several alternatives to plastic when it comes to straws. There have been paper straws around for some time. Then why are not all straws made of paper? Truth is a paper straw doesn’t work as well as a plastic one. It collapses and won’t allow enough liquid to pass through it. It is, however, an alternative and should be considered in preference to the plastic variety.
There are bamboo straws which are an excellent alternative, they are made from sustainably sourced bamboo and are competitively priced at around £1 each, they make great gifts and definitely say you care!
There are metal straws, which for me are the best alternative. They are strong, rust-resistant, will not bend, twist, crack, or break like plastic and glass straws can. A wash with a cleaning brush and they are good to go again. Making them economical and environmentally-friendly.
There are glass and reusable plastic straws which again are an alternative but have their own issues, glass is prone to breaking and plastic is well plastic.
Last but not least there are edible straws, these are so much fun and I think even add something to the experience in so much as they come in some great flavours and also you get to eat them. The only drawback I can see with them is for people like me who can’t have sugar, but hey we are still a minority so I’m gonna give them a huge thumbs up.
This is a major problem, especially in hot climates such as The Gambia. The difficulty comes from needing to keep the food free from flies which carry disease and no compromise.
I’m afraid for now I’m going to say that on this we have to be satisfied with a major reduction in what we currently use rather than a complete replacement of it.
Let’s look at the options:
Beeswax food wraps, these really work well and have a useful life of about a year. At around £8 each they are a bit pricey.
Old glass jars are brilliant for storing certain kinds of food in the fridge or freezer, they cost nothing, so whenever possible we try and use these. Our final option is an answer to keeping food fresh and fly-free whilst its waiting for our hungry guests to come and eat it are these poliboxes, they offer a real alternative to covering everything with clingfilm and hopefully should save some money as well as help save our environment.
We would really love to hear any suggestions that would help us reduce further the use of cling film, especially if it’s appropriate for the restaurant and hotel industry.