War on plastic straws
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.”
“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.
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
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.