One hundred and seven students in Year 9 and Year 10 from GEMS Modern Academy have joined hands with local not-for-profit marine conservation organisation, Azraz (Arabic for “Blue”) to reduce the number of plastic straws used in the region.
The move comes after the announcement of the #stopsucking campaign launched by Freedom Pizza in mid-February in conjunction with Azraq, to challenge outlets to follow in their footsteps and remove the plastic straw from their orders. Since then, over 25 outlets including Jumeriah Restaurant Group and Gates Hospitality have take action to reduce or remove plastic straws and in most cases additional single use plastic items like cutlery from their restaurants, cafes and hotels.
The 107 students from GEMS Modern Academy have already started taking action, hitting outlets within Dubai Mall and Karama resulting in seven outlets signing on to their #reduceplasticstraw campaign, which includes Chillis Dubai Mall, Joe’s Crab Shack Dubai Mall, Barbeque Nation Karama, Daily Restaurant Karama, Peshwa Restaurant, Sthan and Jaffer Bhai’s Karama. The action took place after Azraq was invited to the school to discuss the success achieved to date and how best to get managers and owners of outlets to reconsider the use of plastic straws.
Natalie Banks, Managing Director of Azraq stated that The World Economic Forum has warned if action is not taken, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. She then congratulated the students for partaking in the activity and generating change.
“Plastic straws end up in the ocean primarily through human error and an estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs,” Ms Banks said.
“It is fantastic to see young adults taking action in an attempt to reverse some of the damages already created by single use plastic on our marine and urban environment.”
Student Sumedha Mohanty from 10F at GEMS Modern Academy who participated in the activity stated that we wont have a society if we don’t preserve the environment and that by being involved in this campaign she not only understood the importance of preserving the marine life, but also acquired skills to convince people to make a change for a worthy cause.
Educational Supervisor at GEMS Modern, Trafford Anthony Gregory is extremely proud of the role the students are playing and hopes that the actions of the students will inspire others to do the same.
“Let us together make a difference,” Mr Gregory states.
Since launching the mission to reduce single use plastic straws, Azraq has sold over 3,000 stainless steel straws and has just recently added bamboo and paper straws to their offerings.
Further information regarding the initiative can be found at: https://azraqme.org/marine-debris/#stop-sucking