Tania Bird is a conservation biologist originally from the UK. She spent 8 years in Africa working on a range projects in biodiversity conservation, wildlife biology and community conservation in Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. During the last 10 years in Israel, she developed a strong interest in environmental activism and education. She aspires to inspire others to lead a vegan, zero-waste lifestyle by reducing her own consumerism, growing her own vegetables and using non-plastic reusable products. She recently completed a PhD at Ben Gurion University, researching long-term biodiversity trends and restoration of coastal dunes in Israel. In 2018, she founded Straw Free Israel to help raise awareness and reduce plastic consumption in Israeli society.
The project aims to reduce the use of plastic straws in Israel, as a first step to minimising the negative impact of all single use plastics on our planet and our health, by providing information, solutions and non-plastic alternatives.
Our primary objective is to reduce the use of disposable plastic straws through two main activities: 1) encouraging customers to request ask for their drink #StrawFree in an effort to help reduce the number of straws used every day, and 2) inviting cafes and bars in Israel to only provide straws on request, or not at all!
Our online community is driving awareness in Israel, encouraging consumers to go straw free and think about their plastic consumption behaviours. We also encourage consumers to talk to their friends, and to bars they frequent, to spread awareness and invite businesses to consider joining the movement!. By raising awareness among customers, offering alternatives, practical tips, information and marketing materials we can facilitate businesses to reduce plastic waste, which translates to monetary savings. We also hold many fun volunteer activities and education events at schools, universities and other public and private events.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
I have always had the world-view that life is about helping others, making a positive contribution to society, and leaving the planet in a better state than we found it. I have dedicated my life to studying, protecting and conserving the world’s biodiversity. Every day I see tonnes of plastic trash on the beach, and most of it gets swept out to sea before it can be collected. Plastic either kills the marine life that consumes it or eventually, it degrades into micro-plastic particles, which can contaminate the water we drink and the fish we eat for up to 400 years.
Many people consider disposable plastics as a cheap, hygienic solution to everything, but these products cause so much damage and they will exist forever. I felt I had to do something to fight plastic pollution, so I started Straw Free Israel. Most coffee shops in Israel provide a straw with EVERY drink as a ‘good customer service policy’, and we use between 1-5 million straws every day in Israel alone. Most people really don't need these straws, so it's something that is easy to give up and makes a huge difference to our planet. These days there are many non-plastic alternatives for everything. Quitting straws is a great way to start the journey to being plastic free; our campaign motto is "The First Step is The Last Straw".