Campaigns and shows like Blue Planet II have given us a glimpse into what single-use plastics – like straws and bottles – do to our oceans and the wildlife that live in them.
We use an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws every year in the UK.
Now, the government is bringing in new rules to restrict their availability from April 2020.
Plastic drinks stirrers will be totally banned from sale, but – although shops won’t be allowed to sell plastic straws – they will remain on sale by registered pharmacies in stores and online.
That’s because straws can be essential for everyday life for some disabled groups and a total ban could lead to the risk of dehydration.
Environmental groups have praised the move but say the government needs to take far more decisive action.
The news comes as more and more restaurants and shops are banning plastic straws. Here’s Newsbeat’s guide to the places promising that this is the last straw.
The super-sized fast food chain wants to reduce single-use plastics in the UK.
It’s currently aiming to bring in paper straws to all of its UK branches.
The roll-out should be completed by the end of 2019, with any remaining plastic straws being moved behind the counter in the meantime.
“Customers have told us that they want to have to ask for a straw,” the company’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy said last year.
“Our straws are already 100% recyclable, but we know more can be done.”
All Bar One
Bar chain All Bar One were among the first to start limiting use of straws and used the hashtag #strawssuck to encourage others to join in.
The company buys 4.7 million straws a year and in mid-2017 it began to replace its plastic straws with eco-friendly versions.
The company says it’s seen “a considerable reduction in plastic straw usage” since making the move and says reaction from customers has been positive.
All JD Wetherspoon pubs, and there are nearly 900 of them around the country, stopped using plastic straws at the beginning of 2018.
A spokesperson told Newsbeat “the company was previously using 70 million plastic straws a year” and staff were automatically putting them into drinks.
Now Wetherspoon’s straws are biodegradable and must be specifically requested by the customer.
Pizza Express and Wagamama
Ava, a five-year-old Pizza Express customer, prompted the Italian food restaurant chain to make a change with its plastic straws.
The company said the letter above “spurred the business to make a change” and has replaced all plastic straws with biodegradable ones.
Wagamama has made a similar move, with plastic straws only available if you specifically ask for them.
Restaurant chain Nando’s say they only use paper straws that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes sustainable forestry.
The chicken giant says “we are always on the lookout for more sustainable alternatives to plastic and are dedicated to improving wherever possible.”
They claim they’ve seen an over-80% drop in straw usage over the past couple of years.
Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Pret A Manger have made the decision to take action too.
Costa and Caffe Nero have replaced plastic straws with paper ones in all of their UK branches.
Although paper straws will be offered, you will still be able to request a plastic straw from staff at Pret A Manger if you need it.
Some major supermarkets are also on board.
Waitrose removed all plastic straws from their shelves last year.
And the chain didn’t stop there – it’s also promising to reduce plastic whenever possible including removing black plastic food trays – which are difficult to recycle.
Iceland, who have previously supported the introduction of a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, also aims to be “plastic-free” by 2023.
It has already removed plastic straws from its own label range.
Tesco says it’s phased plastic drinking straws out of its cafes.
Marriott International’s UK hotels have made a massive push to remove plastic straws from circulation.
The accommodation giant owns more than 6500 hotels worldwide – and by this July, plastic straws will be out of all of them.
A spokesperson for Marriott International said last year that it was making a “small and significant step in playing our part in reducing the volume of plastic that damages our environment and wildlife”.
Like many of the other companies mentioned above, Marriott says that customers who request a straw will be given a biodegradable or paper alternative.
London City Airport
In February 2018, London City Airport announced that it had removed plastic straws from all its food and drink outlets.
It claims to be the first UK airport to implement the plan which “is helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste”.
The Marine Conservation Society says that “plastic straws really do suck”.
Its advice to customers is: “Just say no, because you just don’t need it and you’ll be doing the oceans a massive favour!”