The Last Straw: Alberta's big cities compete to reduce straw use on July 14

Called The Last Straw Campaign, the competition was organized by Waste Free Edmonton and Plastic Free YYC and is supported by Coun. Ben Henderson in Edmonton and Coun. Druh Farrell in Calgary.

Initiatives by Calgary, Edmonton part of larger movement away from single-use plastics

Calgary Coun. Druh Farrell and Edmonton Coun. Ben Henderson are supporting a one-day challenge between their two cities to reduce the use of plastic straws. (CBC/iStock/CBC)

Move over, hockey and football. When it comes to the rivalry between Edmonton and Calgary, there's a new game in town.

The latest competition is which city can recruit more bars and restaurants to eliminate plastic straws for a day on July 14.

Called The Last Straw Campaign, the competition was organized by Waste Free Edmonton and Plastic Free YYC and is supported by Coun. Ben Henderson in Edmonton and Coun. Druh Farrell in Calgary.

It's a part of a larger movement to move away from single-use plastics, many of which are used for only a few minutes but can stay in the environment for centuries without breaking down.

Farrell said more than 50 million straws are thrown out every day in Canada. While the product makes up a small portion of plastics produced on Earth, it's a start.

"They don't break down in the environment, so we're just trying to reduce plastic consumption waste," Farrell told CBC's Edmonton AM.

"It does get into the water, it gets into the oceans, it certainly gets in our water in terms of breaking down into microplastics, which can end up in our food," Henderson added.

Restaurants across Canada have started ditching plastic straws already. The Last Straw Campaign encourages businesses to try it for a day — and provides encouragement to ditch them for good.

"It's something that I've been working on on my own," Farrell said. "When I found out we had an opportunity to beat Edmonton, I jumped on it."

Whichever city gets more restaurants participating on July 14 gets to take home the inaugural title of Alberta's 2018 Last Straw champion. The loser will have to do something humiliating, Farrell said — though it hasn't been decided yet what that will be.

Regardless of the outcome, both councillors agree reducing waste is a win for everyone.

"We can all make a difference," Henderson said.

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