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Pupil power helps village become plastic straw-free

Ullapool has become the first place in the UK to completely use plastic-free alternatives.

#NaeStrawAtAw: Ullapool Primary pupils led the successful campaign.
#NaeStrawAtAw: Ullapool Primary pupils led the successful campaign.

A campaign by primary school pupils has led to a Scottish village becoming the first plastic straw-free place in the UK.

In total, 14 bars, restaurants and cafes in the village of Ullapool in the Highlands are using non-plastic alternatives to straws or have stopped offering drinking straws altogether.

The last remaining outlet still stocking plastic straws, the town's supermarket, has agreed to stop doing so early next year.

Pupils at Ullapool Primary joined forces with Sunnyside Primary in Glasgow to lobby businesses as part of the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.

The project is supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which said the achievement is "wholly down to pupil power".

The charity's living seas communities officer Noel Hawkins said: "The children from Sunnyside Primary School have done a great deal to raise awareness within Glasgow and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the local kids when they came to Ullapool in September.

"The pupils went door-to-door to speak directly to businesses and this has clearly had an impact."

He added: "Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas.

"Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because there alternative products are available."

'There's no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn't be a throwaway one.'
11-year-old Erin Patterson from Ullapool Primary School

An average of 138 pieces of food and drink-related waste, including plastic straws, were found on every 100 metres of UK beaches during this year's Great British Clean.

Mr Hawkins said: "This may be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool it can work anywhere.

"All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant."

Environment and climate change minister Roseanna Cunningham has congratulated the children on their achievement.

Ullapool Primary School pupil Caillín Erin Patterson, 11, said: "There's no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn't be a throwaway one.

"We're killing our seas with single-use plastic and it's just not necessary."

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