War on plas­tic straws

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad -

A­voPom­me C­re­a­ti­ve Hub in Wood­mill La­ne shop­ping cen­t­re has de­cla­red its own per­so­nal war on dis­po­sa­ble plas­tic drin­king straws in its Ur­ge Ur­ban Café.

“A sin­gle plas­tic straw on its own isn’t much of thing, but w­hen you con­si­der the num­ber of straws that pe­op­le use e­very day, and the fact that they u­su­al­ly just get thro­wn in­to the trash be­cau­se e­ach one is so small and ap­pa­rent­ly in­sig­ni­fi­cant, then you re­a­li­se that straws be­co­me both a ma­jor thre­at to the en­vi­ron­ment and a sym­bol of plas­tic pol­lu­ti­on in ge­ne­ral,” says ar­tist Ri­car­do L van Lin­gen, who co­foun­ded and runs A­voPom­me with his part­ner, Ber­ni­ce Ha­man.

“But e­ver­yo­ne seems to p­re­fer drin­king with a straw – cold drinks and jui­ces just seem to tas­te bet­ter that way – so we’ve te­a­med up with Wood­mill La­ne to find va­ri­ous so­lu­ti­ons that’ll be both fun and practi­cal.

“We’re in­ves­ti­ga­ting w­het­her we can get pa­per or bam­boo straws, and we’ve broug­ht in a stock of reusa­ble glass straws which ha­ve a li­fe­ti­me gua­ran­tee a­gainst bre­aka­ge, which you can buy from our re­tail secti­on,” says Van Lin­gen.

“But not e­ver­yo­ne wants to car­ry their own straws a­round with them, so we de­ci­ded to be c­re­a­ti­ve and ca­me up with the i­dea of char­ging a straw tax for pe­op­le who in­sist on u­sing plas­tic straws.”

Green cen­t­re

“We try to buy lo­cal w­her­e­ver we can by stocking free-ran­ge and or­ga­nic farm pro­ducts (which you can or­der from us week­ly), and by fin­ding in­no­va­ti­ve ways of ex­is­ting in har­mo­ny with the wor­ld,” says Ber­ni­ce.

“We want to work with Wood­mill La­ne to ma­ke the shop­ping cen­t­re as green as pos­si­ble – with gre­at i­ni­ti­a­ti­ves that re­sult in the pro­ducti­on of very litt­le was­te,” adds Ri­car­do.

Wood­mill La­ne’s di­rec­tor A­nouk Ed­wards agrees. “The i­dea of a straw tax, alt­hough a bit cheeky, does high­lig­ht our vi­si­on for Wood­mill La­ne – which is to e­ven­tu­al­ly be­co­me com­ple­te­ly plas­tic-free.”

Ri­car­do con­ti­nues, “That’s w­hat the straw tax is all a­bout: it’s a ton­gue-in-cheek way of as­king our gue­sts to cough up fi­ve bucks for e­very straw they use so that we can cre­a­te a­wa­re­ness of the pro­blems of plas­tic pol­lu­ti­on.

“Pro­fits will go to a lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal NGO, and we’ll al­so col­lect the straws for reu­se – pos­si­bly in a child­ren’s crafts pro­gram­me, or in so­me ot­her re­cy­cling i­ni­ti­a­ti­ve.

“But if the­re are any NGOs out the­re who need them for their own pro­jects, ple­a­se co­me and talk to us a­bout your plans,” he in­vi­tes.

C­re­a­ti­ve hub

Wor­king in ot­her cor­ners of the two-sto­rey shop and ma­king up this “c­re­a­ti­ve hub” ne­ar Pick n Pay, are Hap­py Crow tat­too stu­dio; Pic­tu­re It Fra­med; Han­ne­lie Ber­ry, the or­ga­ni­ser of the Lo­cal De­sign and Food Mar­ket; and mem­bers of Hands De­sign Col­lecti­ve, which al­so has a re­tail secti­on in A­voPom­me.

“We’ve al­so got spa­ce for small meet­ings, lec­tu­res, de­mon­stra­ti­ons and child­ren’s art and acti­vi­ties pro­gram­mes, and our Knys­li­fe­sty­le. com di­vi­si­on pre­sents re­gu­lar works­hops on arts, crafts, and li­fe­sty­le,” says Ber­ni­ce.

And w­hat a­bout “the u­ni­ver­se’s smal­le­st art gal­le­ry”?

The hub has two exhi­bi­ti­on spa­ces: the main exhi­bi­ti­on a­rea fe­a­tu­ring a dif­fe­rent ar­tist e­very month, with Green Li­ving by Chris­ti­ne B cur­rent­ly on show; and ‘the u­ni­ver­se’s smal­le­st art gal­le­ry’ which is no big­ger than the a­vera­ge toi­let stall. This is w­he­re Ri­car­do is ex­chi­bi­ting col­la­ges tel­ling “per­so­nal sto­ries a­bout my jour­ney as a per­son and an ar­tist”.

View a short in­ter­view with Ber­ni­ce and Ri­car­do on YouTu­be: bit.ly/A­vPomS­tra­wVid

For an o­ver­view of the ex­tent of the pro­blem of straw pol­lu­ti­on, see Na­ti­o­nal Ge­o­graphic’s Straw Wars: The Fig­ht to Rid the O­ce­ans of Dis­car­ded Plas­tic by Lau­ra Par­ker. bit.ly/Na­tGe­oS­traws

To le­an how you can help the fig­ht, go to www.stra­w­les­so­ce­an.org (Le­arn how to #S­topSucking and sa­ve our o­ce­an). – Mar­tin Ha­t­chu­el

* Mo­re in­fo: www.a­vopom­me.com, www. wood­mil­la­ne.co.za

P­ho­to: N­wa­bi­sa Pon­do­yi

Cap­tu­red is the te­am be­hind the i­ni­ti­a­ti­ve at A­voPom­me C­re­a­ti­ve Hub in Wood­mill La­ne, from left: Di­rec­tors of A­voPom­me C­re­a­ti­ve Hub Ri­car­do van Lin­gen and Ber­ni­ce Ha­man, Wood­mill La­ne mar­ke­ting exe­cu­ti­ve, Ash­ley Bar­nes, e­vents coor­di­na­tor Han­ne­lie Ber­ry and Wood­mill La­ne’s Bob­by Erf­mann and Ja­cob Qas­hu.

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