(this is a past challenge - see our current challenges here​)

This challenge is about axing two pointless little things from our lives that do way more harm than good.

1. Disposable drinking straws

2. Chewing gum

The problem with both of these little items is that they contain plastic. Everyone is probably aware by this point that single-use plastic is a giant problem for our environment. Straws and gum are a tiny factor in this issue, but they are so pointless that they seem easy items of single-use plastic to eliminate.

Your parents may have told you that chewing gum is a dirty habit. Turns out they were right - as they are about most things, annoyingly. Inside gum, you'll find:

Vinyl acetatecauses tumors

Butylated hydroxyanisol - probable carcinogen

Aspartame - linked to leukaemia 

And lots of other fun stuff! It's not exactly health food.

And then there's the environmental impact of gum. Here are a few things to consider when buying gum:

- It comes wrapped in plastic that'll take, on average, 450 years to decompose.

- The gum itself is the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts.

- 92% of Britain's urban paving stones have gum stuck to them.

- The chemicals used to clean it off the streets are toxic.

- Hummingbirds can get stuck to the ground by discarded gum!

I could go on, but you get it. Gum's not good.

Righty-o, moving swiftly along to disposable drinking straws. I couldn't think of a single reason why they could be bad for your health but luckily I've got this great little site called Google and here's what came up there:

1. They worsen your mouth wrinkles.

2. They give you gas.

3. They DON'T protect your teeth.


However, what's far, far worse about straws is their environmental impact. In the US alone, 500 million straws are used each day. Straws can't be recycled so these are headed straight to landfill. Even worse, loads of them make their way to the ocean where they join the tons of plastic waste harming marine life. This video of a straw being removed from a seat turtle's nostril drives the point home pretty horrifically. 

The gum problem is an easy one to address... just stop buying it. The end. If you're currently trying to quit smoking by chewing nicotine gum, I highly suggest reading this article and looking at some of the other solutions they suggest.

As for straws, the first step is not buying them yourself. Second is requesting that the wait staff do not give you straws when you are out. However, I get it if you prefer your frosty drink through a straw, especially if you live in the USA. If you don't use a straw there, you'll end up with a face full of ice if you try to take a sip from your glass.

Enter... reusable drinking straws! 

As with everything these days, you have options. I'd recommend any of the following*.

Stainless steel straws

Glass straws

Bamboo straws (15% discount on these if you use the code THEKINPROJECT)

If you are buying straws for your kids to use, I would go for reusable silicone ones or paper straws. Neither are as good for the environment as the three above, but neither is as likely to cause a horrific cleft injury, as my doctor friend pointed out. (Thanks Nancy!)

*Disclosure policy on my product recommendations here if you like fine print.

Hopefully, these two small tweaks to your habits will be really easy to make. And, yes, you might feel like a bit of a prat carrying around your own straw but suck it up (ha) so the oceans don't have to. It's also an easy way to start a conversation about why straws suck (I'm sorry, I can't help it.) If you want to go the whole hog, talk or write to your favourite restaurants/bars about not serving straws with their drinks unless specifically requested. 



Once you've had your fill of this challenge, pick another! You can find lots of options here. 


Our individual efforts​ won't have much of an impact if there are only a few of us making these changes. The more people we can get involved, the bigger a difference we'll make. Tell a friend or use the buttons below to share this page.


Tell us about your experience with this challenge on social media. What are you finding hard or easy about it? Tell us about #thefinalstraw via the social media buttons below. Don't forget to tag The Kin Project when you do.

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