Why the metal straw in my handbag is saving the planet

how one little straw can have a big impact

Kate Hall

I’ve carried a metal straw in my handbag for about 4 months.

I feel like it’s taught me more lessons than I’ve ever learnt from any human.

This metal straw has made me friends, started several life changing conversations, and so far, it’s saved approximately 30 plastic straws from going to landfill.

You may think I am over exaggerating when I claim my metal straw is saving the planet, but you’re wrong.

Walking the walk when it comes to ethical living drives more change than talking the talk ever will.

So, here I am, talking the talk about how I walk the walk.

Here’s why the metal straw in my handbag is saving the planet.

plastic free

"Walking the walk when it comes to ethical living drives more change than talking the talk ever will."

My metal straw was given to me by a friend who lives an epic eco-lifestyle herself, and was sharing the love.

When she passed me the straw, I popped it straight into my handbag and made a mental note to remember to use it next time I was out and about. This mental note was lost underneath all my mental clutter, and I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated when I was handed drinks with plastic straws.

My metal friend sat, waiting patiently in my handbag. As each straw-laden cup was handed to me, I would throw my hair back and scream “URGH”. My self-esteem would plummet further, and I would begin an external-internal conversation about how forgetful I am and what a bad person I was.

Unsurprisingly, the friends around me would ask, “what’s wrong?!” And that’s the second my metal straw began its first positive impact on the world… because I would tell them what was wrong, and I wouldn’t stop at straws.

After my forgetful debacles; I learnt. I started asking for no straw.

No what? “NO STRAW”, I would shout over the top of bar noise and rugby games. I soon learnt to explain exactly why I didn’t want a straw, and now days I give it to them as a reminder to use it. When they have something in their hand, it’s more likely they will switch off auto pilot and remember to use the straw. This is the second reason why my metal straw is saving the planet.

Each bar tender, every barista, all waitresses and waiters, are affected by my metal straw.

Regardless of whether they look at me like I am an idiot, or take my straw happily and tell me I am doing a good job, they will remember me and my metal straw. Sometimes they begin a conversation and we end up talking for hours about how the planet is fucked and we need to change it ASAP. Other times, they don’t engage, pass me my drink (and straw), and leave it at that. When I return, they may say “oh it’s the straw girl!” At this point, I know they’ve remembered. I cross my fingers and hope that they have been thinking about their own impact on the world, or at least talked to their colleagues about that crazy straw lady. Hey, I’ll claim that title any day.

Two months ago, I walked out the bar to “SAVE THE TURTLES”.

6 weeks ago, I started an eco-based conversation with colleagues after turning down an offer for a drink. I knew if I wasn’t at the bar with my straw, they would just forget.

Just last week in Sydney, I had a whole tiki bar on board. The bar tenders were fascinated, and the patrons were shocked. One bar tender even took my little straw cleaner and cleaned it for me afterwards.

No matter what you say, the metal straw in my handbag is saving the planet, one drink at a time. I’m okay with the funny looks, and I don’t mind feel alienated, but I’m not okay sitting here comfortably drinking through plastic. The world and its people are too beautiful to waste.



Kate Hall

I live and breathe sustainable living and ethical fashion. This alternative way of consuming and existing dominates my every waking moment- and sometimes more. Ethical fashion and living are no longer my hobbies, it has become my mission... to change the future of fast fashion and the way we consume. My husband and I strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle, live at thrift stores, and always look to 'up-cycle' rather than throw out. Eco-living is not a choice for me, it's in my blood, and I am trying with all my power for it to be the new 'norm'.