Thousands Sign Anti-Earth Week Petition

Over 35,000 people want plastic straws back in McDonald’s restaurants


Elizabeth Ezekiel

UNITED KINGDOM: In 2018 the UK became the first country to propose a nationwide ban on all plastic straws and similar items, such as cotton buds and coffee stirrers. This ban not only affected retail stores but also restaurant chains, such as the global phenomenon McDonald’s, and prevented the distribution of unnecessary single-use plastic items to the public. While initially this notion, proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May, seemed to be a positive move in an effort to reduce the amount of waste found in rivers and alongside the coast, there has been recent retaliation from the community trying to make plastic items available to the public again.

The primary concern in the media discussions right now is to reinstate the option of plastic straws in restaurants. Based on public responses on petition forums, people are dissatisfied with texture of the paper straw replacements as well as the lack of poor durability of the more eco-friendly options. One commenter wrote, “The straws are not working for drinking, they should consider biodegradable plastic straws made from natural products. It is doable. I personally hate the paper straws as they leave a weird film on my teeth.” Another McDonald’s customer wrote, “​They get soggy and end up giving off a cardboard taste to the drink you have, no point in having a paper straw with a plastic lid, much rather have a paper lid and a plastic straw.”

The petition ironically was published during the 2019 Earth Week, which lasted from April 22nd to the 28th. The petition, started by a man named Martin Reed, has gained over 36,000 signatures and is reaching for 40,000 before addressing the Parliament trying to reverse the legislature.

The idea of reducing the use of single-use plastics has been at the forefront of discussion towards promoting climate conservation for multiple years, and one of the most highly despised items among the “green community” is the plastic straw. The first model of a plastic straw was introduced to the world in 1888, and since that point they have become so mainstream that billions of straws are distributed to the public every day across the globe. The problem? The mass majority of plastic straws do not get recycled, and therefore take hundreds of years to decompose upon entering landfills, releasing harmful toxins such as methane during this process. The few straws that are “recycled” often cannot be actually repurposed due to the small size and complex plastic composition. For years environmental activists have been promoting the use of alternative straw options such as paper, metal, glass, bamboo, and even palm leaf.

As of right now, it is unclear about whether or not plastic straws and other single use plastic items will stay out of reach to the public in the United Kingdom.