Cornwall campaign group The Final Straw is celebrating a “monumental victory” as a ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has come into force throughout England.

The measure makes it illegal for businesses to sell or supply these single-use plastic items in the UK. The policy was due to start in April 2021 but has been brought forward.

“This campaign has been a big contributor to the wider plastic pollution conversation and has gone on to actually influence policy – an amazing feeling and win for everyone involved,” commented James Neale, co-founder of the campaign.

“Final Straw Cornwall was founded to create a campaign that united the community and broadened the conversation on a key environmental issue – plastic in our oceans. Straws were singled out as a brilliant example of seemingly innocuous items that serve as a powerful example of something incredibly wasteful; they cost time and money to create, yet, will be used on average for fifteen minutes before being discarded as litter. Straws then take up to two hundred years to decompose.”

The Final Straw Cornwall was established four years ago, launching officially in October 2017. The movement was founded by Pat Smith, environmental activist and owner of award winning Bosinver Farm Cottages, and James Neale, creative director at Idenna Creative.

With plastic straws now officially off the menu across the country, the team at Final Straw Cornwall believe they were part of the catalyst of change, helping to channel the focus of individuals and businesses towards issues that can be singled out, campaigned and tackled.

“We’ve received overwhelming support from Cornish businesses over the past four years, and have watched the positive ripple effect move throughout Cornwall and the country as the campaign gathered momentum. It’s a shining example of just how powerful a campaign can be when local communities work together on important environmental issues – and the change in new government legislation is a huge achievement for everyone involved as well as the planet.”

L-R: James Neale, Pat Smith and James Strawbridge at Final Straw Cornwall launch event

The Final Straw has signed up hundreds of hospitality businesses across Cornwall, reaching millions of people through print, broadcast and digital media coverage. Since its start up in late 2017, the group has effectively removed 4 million plastic straws from going into circulation across the county.

Fellow co-founder Pat Smith, also known as ‘Action Nan,’ has gone on to become a highly regarded activist, thought leader and ambassador for environmental change, successfully galvanising huge support for this and many other eco-campaigns.

She attributes people power to the success of Final Straw Cornwall. “This campaign shows what can be achieved if people decide not to accept the status quo. Knowledge is the key to many solutions – once people realise the problem and the bulb in their brain lights up, they can be inspired to take action, feel good about themselves and tell others.

“We have had support from so many awesome individuals and businesses who have joined us in making a difference. There are too many to mention individually but I would Like to thank Wendy Tubb for her tireless support, Nic Sherrif, Oliver Baines, Viki Carpenter, James Strawbridge and Gemma from Springer Marketing. We have also had some brilliant businesses supporting us along the way like The Cornish Food Box, Leap, Sams Restaurants, The Beach Guardian, Trevisker Garden Centre and of course every single business that has signed up and pledged to go plastic straw-free.”

Smith added that whilst The Final Straw might have won the battle against single-use plastic straws, the war is far from over. She added: “We will continue to challenge the status quo on environmental issues. One of the things we’re currently focusing on is the tidal wave of littered PPE that’s threatening to overwhelm our environment. There is absolutely no excuse for dropping this or any kind of litter – put it in the bin or take it home for collection.”