A peninsula-wide effort to reduce single use plastics has united Tofino and Ucluelet in a fight against plastic straws.
Surfrider Pacific Rim’s Straws Suck campaign, which achieved impressive momentum in Tofino, migrated to neighbouring Ucluelet in October when roughly 24 Ukee-based businesses that were using plastic straws agreed to stop by June 8’s World Oceans Day.
“Plastic straws are one of the top ten items found on beach clean ups world wide, yet this product is not necessary for a majority of people,” said Surfrider chapter manager Lilly Woodbury. “By assisting businesses to eliminate plastic straws, we can prevent the pollution from ever occurring. This also works to shift industry practices and consumer behaviour so that straws and other single use plastics are no longer the norm and actually become socially unacceptable.”
Woodbury was thrilled to see Ucluelet’s excitement in joining the initiative.
“We assisted 24 businesses in eliminating plastic straws, but there are six more that were plastic free before the campaign. So, a total of 30 businesses that are in an industry that provides plastic straws are straw-free,” Woodbury said. “Many of these businesses are also plastic bag free, and working on eliminating other single use plastics from their operations. Congratulations to everyone. We are thrilled to claim this collective success.”
She said Surfrider’s volunteer team worked with business owners and explained the benefits of joining the movement
“Businesses have an amazing opportunity to be environmental leaders and influence customers from all over the globe, and the volunteers did a great job communicating this,” Woodbury said. “The volunteers also got the businesses stoked to be part of the movement and ensured that they would be set up for long term success.”
She said the Straws Suck Pledge is strictly a social contract for the time being, but Surfrider plans to lobby hard for bylaws in both Tofino and Ucluelet banning plastic straws and other single use plastics.
“We hope this campaign will continue to inspire more people to join, or lead, this initiative in their towns and cities so that plastic straws become a relic of the past,” she said. “We ultimately want to create an Ocean Friendly Corridor between Tofino and Ucluelet that is single use plastic free. From straws to bags, coffee lids, plastic and foam takeout containers, and water bottles.”