Saturday 21 July 2018

'We want to preserve the wildlife and nature here' - Irish town aiming to eliminate plastic straws

Mayo-Westport-Tidy Towns
Mayo-Westport-Tidy Towns
The Old Head beach near Westport
View of Westport house from the lake
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

AN Irish town has vowed to be the first to eradicate plastic straws, saying, "we want to preserve the wildlife and nature."

The scenic tourist hotspot of Westport in Co Mayo unveiled their ambitious plan during a meeting of their SuperValu Tidy Towns committee.

Cutting down on plastic has become an increasingly important issue in recent times - Ireland is the top producer of plastic waster in the EU, according to Eurostat figures.

Previously we have exported 95 per cent of our plastic waste to China but they have now banned that practice.

Westport has pledged to become more environmentally friendly and the committee is urging local businesses to get involved.

Liam Campion, manager at SuperValu Westport, said: “We encourage young people to get involved in the TidyTowns committee because they are the future of our town, and the idea to get rid of straws came from the transition year students on the junior committee.

Plastic Drinking Straws
Plastic Drinking Straws

“We were coming up with different ideas and the teenagers said that all the pubs around have plastic straws – if we could get them all to get rid of them in one go, that would be something.

 “We thought that getting rid of plastic straws would be a first and looked into it further.

“Some of the businesses on the committee are vintners and we now have a commitment from all vintners in Westport that they will only use biodegradable straws from June 1st.”

Westport has previously been crowned Ireland's tidiest town three times and they intend to be at the forefront on sustainability initiatives, local TidyTowns Committee member Rhona Chambers said.

“We are a coastal town and want to preserve the wildlife and nature in Westport, so getting rid of plastic straws helps us to do that.”

The  town's population is set to swell from 5,000 to 25,000 during the tourist season and Ms Chambers said they hope that local businesses will be willing to replace plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.

“The SuperValu TidyTowns competition is all about businesses and communities working together to make a difference and we hope that by eliminating plastic straws we can make a difference to Westport,” Ms Chambers added.

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