Making ‘STRAWkeling’ an activity known by the whole nation
Plastic straws seem like an ubiquitous item. Last year, local resident Kasey Turner went for a snorkel after work in Manly Cove. In the area, she found 319 plastic straws in just twenty minutes. 24 hours later Kasey went back and did another and found 294 more plastic straws in the exact same place.
These are not isolated events. Manly Cove, in Sydney, Australia is a hotspot for plastic pollution, and in particular, straws. ‘Operation Straw’ is a citizen science project under the SO Manly banner. The project aims to tackle the huge problem of plastic pollution by starting with one seemingly small item, plastic straws. The project was designed to foster a sense of stewardship over Manly Cove – a beloved dive site- while simultaneously collecting information on one of the most environmentally harmful items; plastic straws.
The most simple projects are often the most effective. Every week over summer 2017/18, a team of divers conducted an underwater clean of a specific area of Manly Cove. During the project, volunteers counted the number of plastic straws found along with details such as tide and weather.
The data recorded will be used in the second phase of the project, which involves engaging with businesses in the local area to encourage them to reduce the number of straws they offer within their cafes and bars.
Operation Straw has garnered international media attention since its launch in December. Articles can be found on ABC News, The Daily Telegraph , 7 News and Daily Mail and the project was featured on Sunrise, ABC Breakfast TV and Studio 10.