The Last Straw for the Whitsundays’ Great Barrier Reef

30th April 2018

Great Barrier Reef Adventure

With the aim of persuading all businesses working on the Great Barrier Reef to operate free of plastic straws, Marine Biologist and Cruise Attendant Nicole Nash has declared war on disposable polypropylene straws.

Launching her campaign ‘The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef’ in 2017, Nash spends her spare time approaching tourism operators in the Whitsundays and along the GBR and calling for them to sign a pledge promising to no longer provide polypropylene straws in their venues.

In tackling the damaging quantity of plastics contaminating the reef, Nash saw the disposable straw as a great conversation starter around promoting plastic-free alternatives.

"Single-use plastic straws were a no brainer. People don't need a straw unless they have a disability," Nash said.

"Straws are something people don't think twice about using. They just get one in their drink and don't think about the environmental impacts and the fact the straw will outlive them."

Already 15 restaurants and cafes, 114 cruise boats, 8 tour providers and 30 resorts and hotels in the Whitsundays region have committed to the campaign. Nash estimates that as a result, there’ll be 450,000 less straws used in Australia annually.

Regularly attributed to the deaths and contamination of marine life, plastic straws are also responsible for polluting and killing coral.

According to Dr Joleah Lamb from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, “Corals that are in contact with plastic have an 89 per cent likelihood of having disease, compared to just four per cent in the corals that didn't have plastic waste touching them”.

In Cairns, 10-year old Molly Steer launched her own anti-straw campaign throughout schools in Queensland. ‘Straw No More’ calls on schools and recently, local councils, to ban the use of plastic straws in their venues. Garnering international interest from South Korea, New Zealand, England and the USA, Molly’s campaign is now supported by over 10,000 students across the state.

This month the Cairns Regional Council also unanimously voted to remove all straws and single-use plastics from their operations while pledging to support local businesses in doing the same.

“I feel very achieved of myself,” said Molly following the announcement.