Putting straws in Stellenbosch’s past

Lucy Bryant

Stellenbosch University (SU) student, Courtney Fagg, is encouraging Stellenbosch to refuse the use of plastic straws. Fagg has started conducting a survey in Stellenbosch called “Refuse the Straw” to gather information related to the use of straws in local restaurants.

“The survey will gather information regarding people’s prior knowledge on straws, their willingness to change from plastic and their vote on restaurants using alternatives,” said Fagg.

The survey was designed for the public and the results will be presented to local Stellenbosch restaurants to promote the disuse of plastic straws.

“The plan is to approach restaurants and provide them with reliable results, the facts about straws and suppliers of alternatives,” she added.

According to Fagg’s research, most plastic straws contain an industrial chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which means that they cannot be recycled.

“Straws are often too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter, and collect as garbage which ends up polluting our oceans,” explained Fagg. In addition to this, she claimed that 50% of animals that ingest plastic from the ocean die.

“It is time to seriously reconsider and disband the production and usage of plastic straws”

Another SU student maintains this perspective. Matt Kiln has started selling stainless steel straws to students in an attempt to combat the usage of plastic straws and the effects they have on the environment.

“Stainless steel can be recycled very easily and it has an infinite lifespan,” said Kiln. “There is a need in the market for these straws and, as young people growing up, there is an opportunity for us to make a difference and see that plastic straws really are a thing of the past.”

Some Stellenbosch restaurants have also taken on the “refuse the straw” initiative by using alternatives to plastic straws. Deluxe Coffeeworks, located on Dorp Street is now using paper straws. Manager, Marinus Wijnbeek, said that the coffee shop switched to paper straws two months ago. “Straws are stupid,” said Wijnbeek. Wijnbeek asserted that an ideal situation would be for people to also use paper cups and lids which, like straws, are also single use items.

Joostenberg Bistro at Klein Joostenberg Wine Farm has also stopped their use of plastic straws by using an interesting alternative. Daughter of the owners of the restaurant, Claire Dehosse, stated that the restaurant uses straws made from sugar cane husks which are decomposable.

Fagg believes it would be remarkable to see Stellenbosch restaurants take initiative and stop using plastic straws.

“This small change would have massive implications in protecting our environment and sea life, while also creating a domino effect of enlightenment,” she said.

Photo: Gizellede Götz

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