Prime Minister Theresa May will today announce the UK government's plans for a consultation later this year on a ban for single-use plastics like drinking straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. If successful, the ban could come into force as soon as next year.
Cotton buds are becoming an increasing hazard in our oceans, as they are often flushed down the loo after use and end up being washed out to sea. It is estimated that over 100,000 sea mammals and turtles and a million seabirds die each year as a result of eating or becoming entangled in plastic.
We have already made some progress on reducing our use of plastic, with the ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products already in force, while the 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags has led to 9 billion fewer bags being distributed according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).
Now Mrs May hopes that by announcing the plans for a ban on other single-use plastics at a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government, she will encourage all the member countries to act together to protect the environment.
But you don't need to wait for the ban to come into force. As a consumer, you can declare your own ban on single-use plastics straight away! Make sure the cotton buds you buy in future have a cardboard stick, as this will biodegrade, and put them in the bin rather than down the loo! If you still have any plastic straws in the house, you might as well use them - they'll end up in landfill anyway and can't be recycled, but make them your last! From now on, only buy paper straws, which will biodegrade, or reusable ones made from materials like stainless steel.