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13th November 2017

The last straw: 42’s takes action against plastic waste

The nightclub is replacing its plastic straws with vegetable straws
The last straw: 42’s takes action against plastic waste
Image: 42nd Street Nightclub

Since introducing a 10p charge for straws, Manchester nightclub 42nd Street (a.k.a ’42s’)  are estimated to have reduced straw usage by 95 per cent, The Mancunion has learned.

In early October, the nightclub announced that it would be introducing a charge for its straws backing the ‘Straw Wars‘ charity, with all proceeds raised from straw charges going to charity. Explaining the rationale behind the policy, a spokesman told The Mancunion that “straws just seem so unnecessary.”

They added: “We have always tried to have responsible policies, from not having high ABV drinks in our promotions to donating our lost property to homeless charities. This just seemed like another cause we could get behind and we already recycle all our other waste.”

When asked about the impact of the charge, the spokesman said“[we] guess we’re using about 5 per cent of the straws we used to.”

The club also told The Mancunion that they will “soon change to vegetable straws which are even better for the environment.”

James Shuttleworth, a third year Geographer at the University of Manchester, praised the campaign and said: “42nd Street’s campaign charging straws has highlighted an important issue. Up until now this consumption was an everyday event, done without thinking and had become invisible.

“A 95 per cent reduction in the amount of straws used is a massive success for the campaign. I hope this will encourage other people and venues to think about what they consume and to reduce or change it to reduce their impact on our planet.”

Luke Blazejewski of Zero Waste UK, a Manchester-based non-profit organisation who campaign for the uptake of waste reduction practices, backed the initiative and told The Mancunion: “We’ve all seen that traumatising video of that turtle having a plastic straws removed from its nose. Once upon a time that straw was probably in someone’s drink, and then casually thrown away. I think anything we can do to reduce our plastic consumption makes a positive change in the world.”

More jokingly, third-year student Callum Kirby said: “It’s comfort to us all that, when on a night out at one of Manchester’s foremost student haunts, we can rest easy in our beds knowing that, upon buying our vodka and tonics, the straws from which we sip them are doing that little bit extra to make this world a better place.”

Speaking to The Mancunion, the nightclub also hit out at the brewing industry more broadly and added: “You could say it would be good if the brewing industry got it’s act together and started going plastic or cans. As most nightclubs in most cities in the UK now decant into plastic under guidance from the licensing authorities, we are producing twice the waste (recyclable or not) that we used to. And just the think of the health benefits for the people who have to lift the waste sacks!”

Ocean pollution from plastic is a problem that is thought to cause the death of 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals a year and the night club has become the first location to support the “Straw Wars” cause in Manchester.

As well as their anti-straw initiative, 42nd street also support homelessness charity Barnabus and have recently offered free entry to the club if punters bring “urgent items” for Barnabus’ homeless drop-in.

Last year, Wetherspoon’s similarly announced it would be reducing its plastic straw usage. A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: “We have decided to stop using plastic straws across our 900 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland by the end of this year.

“In addition, and with immediate effect, straws will no longer be automatically added to drinks, although they remain available for customers if requested.

“From January 2018, all of our pubs will use biodegradable paper straws.”

At the Students’ Union Senate of November the 9th of November, a motion was passed to replace plastic straws used in the Students’ Union buildings with paper straws.


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