Last Straw = First Move

image credit madasdfs

It started with an image of a turtle and a straw (and the turtle was definitely NOT enjoying a salted caramel frappuccino). The image enraged millions to just say no to straws or BYO reusable ones. That energy inspired many businesses to do the same, with some removing them entirely, some switching to paper or compostable, or some redesigning products so they did not need them. A few governments have even promised to ban them in the near future.

Though the straw is just one small part of the massive plague of single-use plastic … think styrofoam containers, soda cups, plastic cutlery, padded envelopes and plastic bags … all in all, this is good move. Actually, it’s great! It shows what individuals, businesses and governments can do when they see a problem, understand it, emotionally connect to it, and then (the biggie) act on it.

So let’s make the last straw the first move to sustainable living. There’s so much more to tackle, and now we know that if we care, we can.

If this is your jam, you may be interested in the next Carbon Conversations TO group coming up in October. This six-week series helps you understand and overcome the overwhelming emotions around climate change, and gives practical tools to reduce your carbon footprint.

Until then, have another look at our “24 ways to act on climate”, with a great section on waste (scroll down to 17 through 20) …

24 ways to act on Climate

We know that 24 is just the start. Feel free to suggest more in the comments section.


7 thoughts on “Last Straw = First Move

    • Yes, UHN would always ensure patient safety and comfort. That said, a straw might not be the best bet. Some places have trialled a “sippy cup” style lid that accommodates the same difficulties as straws, but allows recyclability, or a reusable and washable lid. The idea now would be that anyone who does not need a straw can skip it.


  1. Canada’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste is minimal compared to India and China, other Asian countries and Central and South America. I would like to see politicians pressure those countries into reducing their air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and garbage into the ocean.


  2. I order lunch from core on a weekly basis and eliminated the straws that came with the order sometime last year. Not one person has ever complained. I struggle to see why they still need to be a part of standard core cold drink orders and think that they should instead be offered only as an option. It should be noted that the City of Toronto cannot recycle black plastics, so why are we still using disposable black plates, utensils and trays? Do we have any other options? I really think we should be talking about this.

    I also think that there is a severe lack of green bins in and around the offices and staff areas. In particular around areas where staff may congregate (kitchens, conference rooms) and eat. How can we change that?


    • Hi Cathy,
      Great comments! If you’re not already on the green team at UHN, you should be. It would be wonderful if you can voice your concerns with your department manager, and whoever orders your supplies as well. If you don’t mind, I would like to share your comments with the purchasing groups and support services here.



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