Some schools take field trips to national monuments or museums, but for a group of students from Glasgow and Ullapool, Scotland, their field trip took the form of a beach cleanup on Isle Martin in Loch Broom.
The students ended up removing thousands of plastic straws among the washed-up marine pollution. Inspired by their efforts, the village of Ullapool has officially stopped use of plastic straws in bars, restaurants, and cafes.
The BBC first reported on the success of the campaign, wherein 14 businesses agreed to either stop using straws or switch to an eco-friendly alternative such as paper straws.
Students from Ullapool Primary School and Glasgow’s Sunnyside Primary School ran the campaign with aid from the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
The decision to go plastic-free was motivated in part by the students’ realization of how harmful plastics are in the world’s oceans.
There are millions of tons of plastic floating in the oceans, and millions more added every year. The accumulating plastic harms ecosystems and often form deadly traps for marine wildlife.
Everything from takeout containers, microbeads from synthetic fabric and hygiene products, plastic bottles and bags, and countless plastic straws are currently dumped in the ocean and washing up on beaches.
“There’s no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn’t be a throwaway one. We’re killing our seas with single-use plastic and it’s just not necessary,” Caillín Erin Patterson, a student from Ullapool told the BBC.
The Scottish government has commended Ullapool, noting that it’s a great step forward in reducing marine pollution and keeping shorelines clean.