Falmouth University has taken the decision to ban plastic straws on campus, as of 06/02/2018:
A truly brave and ethical statement, to move to a world where only biodegradable drinking straws are available. We must all applaud this decision, partly because as Peter Cox (COO) states “the impact of plastic waste, particularly on our beautiful coasts, is startlingly obvious…. we’re pleased to be taking this first step and are looking at introducing many more.” (initiative promoted by Plastic Free Falmouth)
)That’s great, but is the environment really under threat because of discarded plastic drinking straws?
Are people not disposing of them properly, are they blatantly chucking them onto the beaches in their thousands, flinging them in their many colours over the beautiful sands and rocks? I’m not sure.
I understand that International Straw Free Day was on 7th February, and it was possibly a great success. I didn’t use a drinking straw on that day, or the day before (come to think of it) – but for a business that wants to grow it’s customer base by 50% and have to accommodate them, I suppose this is one of those ‘small gains’ that sounds good, yet in the great scheme of things achieves little.
The environmental impact that I am more aware of is this: to allow for the growth in the University, 2,000 beds are to be built on a 55 acre site between Treliever and Treluswell roundabouts. We all backed this, fought a campaign and turned around the Council’s viewpoint into agreeing this application on the basis that it might alleviate the strains on our town. Unfortunately, with any build there is disruption to the environment: sewers and pipework are dug, cables are installed etc etc, then on each new build there is a layer of plastic put down within the damp-proofing course (multiplied by hundreds), also the concreting and road-building of green arable land with hedgerows and trees, the additional amount of private and public traffic within the road and back roads of Cornwall, all feeding the expansion of the University. Digging out 55 acres of land to build 2,000 bed accommodation for students does not compare with rogue drinking straws. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever!
Of course the land at Penvose didn’t have to be built on. The University could have honoured its agreement to built the 1,049 bed units on its own brownfield land, but chose not to.
The real potential for environmental issues will be happening in the fields around the University. ‘Liking’ a Facebook post about banning plastic straws is all very well, but this campaign might be more “smoke and mirrors” than a real environmental movement.
Ah well, progress eh?