The Last Straw Campaign


Before reading on, please note, many disabled students need a bendy plastic straw in order to independently consume fluids. Please ensure that you have a stock of bendy plastic single use straws behind the bar, so that if requested, they can be given to those that need them. We advise putting a sign up on the bar to make sure that disabled students know that they are available. Do not attempt to police who has access to plastic straws. Removing access to plastic straws may make you liable under the Equality Act 2010.

You’ve probably already heard that many bars and restaurants are joining the global movement to reduce plastic drinking straws from our landfills, streams, oceans and beaches. 

The problem with straws

  • 500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone – that’s 175 billion a year filtering into landfills and littering our waterways and oceans
  • They are used for an average of 20 minutes, but their effect lasts a lifetime.  Extreme waste for minimal convenience!
  • Thousands of seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles die every year when they ingest or get entangled in plastic pollution – 80% of which comes from the land!

How can you help?

  • Request ‘no straw’ when visiting bars and restaurants
  • Help us to spread the word by Liking or retweeting @NUSUK #TheLastStraw campaign posts or upload one of these graphics on your Twitter or Facebook using #TheLastStraw remembering to include this link to sign the pledge: (Welsh versions of the social media graphics are available to download here)
  • There’s lots of compostable or reusable options on the market as an alternative to single-use plastic products.  Next time you go for a drink, why not use your own paper, glass, bamboo or stainless steel straw – there’s lots of choices available 
  • If you're an SU, keep a stock of reusable or compostable straws behind the bar just in case your customer requests one.  There may be instances where you need to stock plastic straws i.e. some disabled customers may require one, so try and ensure these are recycled responsibly (see related articles below). 
  • See if there are local environmental organisations that you can work in partnership with.  The Students' Union at Bournemouth University is a great example where a team of student volunteers (The Green Taskforce) and VP Education Alex Hancox, will be working with Litter Free Coast & Sea this year to lobby the 18 kiosks and food outlets on Bournemouth beach-front, to ask them to change their single use vending plastics.  We'll tell you more about this soon.
  • Sign the pledge to show you’re supporting #TheLastStraw

As students, you have the power to drive meaningful change. Phasing out single-use plastics – where possible – in our day-to-day lives by considering our impact on the environment with items such as straws, plastic bottles and bags is the first step.

Click here to find out more from the sustainability team at NUS and to join our sustainability mailing list.  

Who has signed the pledge so far? 

909 individuals have signed the pledge so far including these students' unions and envrionmental organisations.  THANK YOU! 


Related articles... 

Plastic straws could be banned by October 2019 The Publican, 22 October 2018

Why a universal plastic straw ban is actually bad for people with disabilitiesiNews, 19 April 2018

Amid many claims about fighting a war on plastic, the Kenyans are leading the charge. BBC, 19 April 2018

Plastic straws: Which companies are banning them? BBC, 28 March 2018

Michael Gove reveals plastic straws could be banned in Britain - The Telegraph, 22 Feb 2018

Pubs 'should charge 5p for straws' - Morning Advertiser, 23 Feb 2018

EU wants all plastic waste to be recyclable by 2030

It's the last straw for Costa

Water way to reduce plastic waste - Evian jumps on board

Has London got the bottle for water fountain rollout?

It's great news to hear that the UK Government has banned the use of microbeads in costmetic products from 1 January 2018 with Wales to follow shortly.  By 1 July 2018, all personal care and cosmetic products containing microbeads will be off the shelves in the UK and the US. 

The Evening Standard launched a new campaign to eradicate plastic straws from London's streets.  Read more here.

This year, NUS will be committing to using reusable cups as part of our coffee cups campaign. Following the news that only one in 400 cups are recylced in the UK - it's time to act!