Published: 01/01/2018 07:00 - Updated: 28/12/2017 16:24

Last straw for Ullapool school pupils


Young people
Young people speak to staff at the Royal Hotel. Pic by Noel Hawkins.

PLASTIC is not so fantastic when it comes to straws, go-ahead kids at a Wester Ross primary have told local businesses.

And now, the environmentally- aware youngsters are close to making Ullapool the first plastic straw-free village in the UK.

The caring kids’ campaign to draw attention to the dangers of plastic in the marine environment has already seen them hailed at Holyrood by former pupil Maree Todd, a Highlands and Islands MSP.

All 14 bars, restaurants and cafés in the Ross-shire village are now using non-plastic alternatives, or have stopped offering drinking straws altogether.

The last remaining outlet, the town’s supermarket, has agreed to stop stocking plastic straws early in 2018.

In September, pupils from Ullapool Primary School joined forces with Glasgow’s Sunnyside Primary School to lobby local businesses as part of the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.

They were supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s living seas communities officer, Noel Hawkins.

He said: "This achievement is wholly down to pupil power. The pupils went door to door to speak directly to businesses, and this has clearly had an impact. I’d like to thank everyone involved for taking action after listening to the concerns of these youngsters.

"Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas. Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because alternative products are available.

"This may be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas, but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool it can work anywhere. All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant."

Ullapool Primary School pupil Caillín Erin Patterson (11) said: "There’s no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn’t be a throwaway one. We’re killing our seas with single-use plastic and it’s just not necessary."

A spokesperson for the Seaforth Hotel in Ullapool said: "The Seaforth is proud to be a part of the #NaeStrawsAtAw campaign. We’re thrilled that the children from Ullapool Primary and Sunnyside Primary are making such a huge difference. The Seaforth is passionate about keeping the oceans clean. We have a great history in fishery and we are well known for our seafood dishes. We will continue to support Ullapool primary and Sunnyside primary in their campaign. Fantastic work!"

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: "Congratulations to the Ullapool community for recognising the problem of plastic straws and taking action. This is an example to communities across the country of the bold steps they can take to protect our marine environment."

An estimated 1.5 million tons of plastic are released into the world’s oceans every year.

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