Throwback Thursday — The UK Single-Use Plastic Ban

We are going to revisit how the single-use plastic ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds came into effect in the UK. We will also provide you with some fantastic eco-alternatives that are on the market, including our signature Stroodles (sustainable pasta-straws)!

The ban was introduced in October 2020. It originally was set for April 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ban resulted in the following actions:

  • All catering establishments such as bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs had to stop using and/or displaying plastic straws. However, to protect the rights of people with medical conditions and disabilities, establishments were advised they could provide these on request from such individuals.
  • Shops and supermarkets were instructed not to selll plastic straws. However, registered pharmacies were allowed to sell them (over the counter or online).
  • Cotton buds (with plastic stems) were completely banned from sale to the general public. However medical/scientific laboratories were given permission to purchase these if required for research and for forensic tasks in criminal investigations.
  • Plastic drinks stirrers were totally banned from sale.

We all have a vague sense of the idea that plastic isn’t great for Planet Earth, but what exactly is its effect? Below is an infographic that illustrates the very real and harmful impact of something as seemingly innocent as a cotton bud:

The polluting power of plastic is unbelievable. In the UK alone it is estimated that we use a staggering 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic stemmed cotton buds every year. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down the toilet and can end up in waterways and oceans and threaten precious marine wildlife.

Alternative to Single-Use Plastic Products:

Many of us already live a straw-free, bud-less, plastic-bag free life and take actions and make choices to be more eco-friendly. Us Stroodlers have identified some great sustainable swaps that you can make today.

Instead of Plastic Straws Try…

Stroodles — Our pasta straws are a great alternative to harmful plastic straws and they are far more enjoyable than soggy paper drinking straws. Stroodles are made out of two very natural ingredients — wheat and water. Our simple pasta formula is 100% biodegradable, edible, lasts for over an hour in your drink, has no flavour and is zero-waste. By opting for this you can help in making a small, effortless yet impactful change.

Instead of Plastic Cotton Buds Try…

Bamboo Cotton Buds

  1. PandaStix: These cotton buds are far better for the enviornment than plastic. They are very sturdy, very easy to use for applying or removing makeup. They are made from 100% pure cotton and organic bamboo and they are fully compostable. This factors means that they help our environment by cutting down on landfill and ocean waste.
  2. Bamboo Stickmasters: Made from flexible bamboo and organic cotton, these bamboo cotton buds are super strong and will not snap or splinter, making them a great choice! No more plastic sticks floating in the ocean. Simply add to your compost when used.

Reusable Swabs

  1. Last Swab: Made from TPE, PP, and stored in a bio-based carrying case, one LastSwab is meant to replace 1000 single-use cotton swabs. LastSwab provides an eco friendly alternative to the many uses of single use cotton buds without the large environmental footprint. It also comes in two different models for different applications. One is for general cotton bud use and the other is focused on more beauty-oriented purposes. Both are made from durable, flexible and high quality, non-toxic materials which are gentle on skin and very easy to clean. Both also come with a convenient and biodegradable carrying case so you can store these away safely and easily.

Instead of Drink Stirrers Try…

Pasta Stirrers

  1. Why not use Stroodles for this as well! This is a multi-functional product that can easily be used both as a straw and a drink-stirrer.

Wooden stirrers

  1. There are many companies that sell wooden drink stirrers, such as these by Next Day Coffee and these by our friends at Plastic Free Shopper. These wooden drink stirrers are made with wood paper from a fully sustainable forest, ensuring that all materials used are fully renewable!

Glass drink stirrers from our friends at Drink Stuff

  1. These stirrers are made from clear glass with a smooth finish and ball end, and compliment any glass perfectly. Washable and reusable, glass cocktail stirrers are much more environmentally friendly than disposable alternatives!

We hope you enjoyed this article and that you are inspired by some of our eco-friendly swaps! Check out our other articles on Medium or on our Website.

Stroodles Team x

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We are Stroodles — The Pasta Straws! Our stroodles are 100% biodegradable, have a 1 hour + use time, flavourless, vegan AND are kind to our planet.