By Clarissa Hughes – Group Positive Impact Co-ordinator
Plastic is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Despite it being a cheap and durable material for human use, what happens afterwards is now a massive worldwide problem. We generate over 10 million tons of plastic waste each year.
Much of it makes its way down rivers into the oceans of the world. There is an island of waste in the Pacific Ocean as large as India, Europe and Mexico combined.
The rest goes into landfill. Only 1-3% is recycled.
Plastic doesn’t bio-degrade. It photo-degrades, which means it breaks down into small ingestible pieces that last forever. These pieces are eaten by marine and land animals. The latest estimates show that 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have plastics in their stomachs, which results in a 50% mortality rate.
Ultimately, plastics find their way into our food chain. We’re eating the plastic we throw away.
One of the biggest culprits in the drama of plastic waste is straws. Yes, those innocuous, little tubes we don’t think twice about using.
Even if we were conscientious enough to recycle all our plastic waste, straws don’t cut the grade. They’re too lightweight to make it through a mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials. They’re just too small to separate.
Asilia uses a natural alternative to plastic straws. Our straws are made from organically grown rye. No chemicals or bleaches are used in their manufacture. They’re therefore completely biodegradable and compostable.
“Although they’re significantly more expensive than the plastic alternative, we decided to go the biodegradable route as we were growing tired of seeing plastic straws on the beach. They’re a real problem to the marine life in our area,” says Ross Owen, Manager of Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar.
Asilia is now using organic, biodegradable straws in all its camps.