Friday 19 January 2018  Issue No 2269


 (Annat)

Bay Watch

Happy New Year from Living Seas & Congratulations Plastic Straw free Ullapool!

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Hopes to get local businesses converted to alternatives from plastic straws suddenly accelerated just before Christmas. This was a mix of wanting to get it done and realising a number of other places were looking to do the same or similar. Thanks to all the businesses that agreed to go for it. It really has caught the public eye - along with the media and politicians. Ullapool and Sunnyside Primary and the village's non plastic straw stance was featured in a number of national papers, on STV and all over social media and the internet. The kids were also mentioned in Westminster in a Motion. We have also been contacted by a number of other people, groups and communities (even overseas) who are following our lead in their areas and Kate Forbes MSP has launched a campaign calling for an outright ban on plastic straws in Scotland and the UK. Not bad work.

Out and about over the festivities, some people raised concerns at what they took to be plastic straws still in use - e.g. at The Arch. These are actually PLA - a non plastic substitute that is not only not made from oil and carbon neutral, but also biodegrades. They are not as good as paper but are better than plastic. Also some people have raised concerns about people with medical conditions who need to use straws: as stated before, we are not trying to ban straws, just look at alternatives and are happy to ensure businesses have them or point individuals to ones they might want to try themselves too as there are lots of alternatives out there: bamboo, paper, glass, metal, PLA, silicone, etc.

If all this seems a lot of nonsense for a small thing - there literally are millions of plastic straws being used (briefly) everyday then thrown away - mostly into landfill but also into the sea where it lasts for centuries. We hope the campaign has demonstrated that such items can be removed or replaced from daily use with little cost or interference. Also showed that small voices can be heard too. Hopefully a good thing too! If it's possible with one example, what about others: plastic cutlery, packaging, throw away coffee cups, water bottles? Reality is that all these things have a hugely detrimental effect of the environment, nature and wildlife - and eventually us. Not only is usage accelerating but recycling is going to become a bigger issue as China has decided to stop taking our plastics so the UK is facing a rise in domestic plastic waste. Figures vary of how much we export but 2014/15/16 it ran at about 800,000 tonnes a year (mostly to China). Our beach clean at Dun Canna was around 2 tonnes and was 300 bags of rubbish. That would mean we're exporting about 2 bags a person in the UK (these are very rough figures and our bags were more densely packed than domestic so could be a lot higher). This is going to leave the UK struggling to deal with plastic waste. Options are, stop using, reduce using, re-use, then recycle. (keep an eye out for what Craig is planning up Braes - great initiative)

So yeah, straws were a wee thing, but maybe can be the start of more. I'm pretty optimistic the kids will find other targets and hope the schools and village will support them and give it a go.

Should give credit to Tesco too - they have agreed to offer paper straws there too. They are also considering some other quite forward looking ideas too. And the kids are also in talks with the school suppliers so will hopefully be getting plastic straws removed out of their suppliers too. And if none of this moves or motivates you in anyway at all, then at least take from it that the village got some additional great publicity which combined with the creel tree, all our music and festivals, etc. so hopefully is a good thing.

Think worth mentioning, if you have seen, it is Year of Young People 2018 in Scotland #YOYP2018. Ullapool and Sunnyside are off to a flying start - who knows what they'll achieve by the end of it all! We are currently speaking with Sunnyside about plans for Ullapool kids going down to visit them, so hopefully good things ahead.   Links to articles and TV clip on our facebook page.

Cheers, Noel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,www.facebook.com/LivingSeasScotland)