Six-year-old campaigns to ban plastic straws in Shoreham

An eco-minded six-year-old has made it his mission to get Shoreham plastic-straw-free.

Gabriel Turner, six, with his mother, Emma Turner
Gabriel Turner, six, with his mother, Emma Turner

Gabriel Turner has delivered a touching letter to staff at cafés, restaurants and bars in the town imploring them to ditch plastic straws in favour of more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

The Swiss Gardens Primary School pupil said he was inspired to take action after watching BBC’s Blue Planet series, which broadcast shocking scenes showing masses of plastic floating in the sea.

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The Sussex Wildlife Trust member was also encouraged by an article about a campaign to ban plastic straws run by a school in Scotland.

Gabriel Turner, six, with his mother, Emma Turner

His mum Emma Turner said: “Gabriel thought he could do something similar. He has always been very environmentally minded, the whole family are and we have instilled that in him.”

One rainy Saturday morning, the pair set off to visit different establishments in the town centre. Gabriel said: “Everytime I asked the question – do you use plastic straws?”

If the answer was yes, he handed them a hand-written letter, which reads: “My name is Gabriel. I’m nearly seven years old.

"I don’t want all the animals in the sea or land to die, so stop using plastic straws.

Gabriel presents a certificate to Helene Berthillot from of Real Patisserie in Shoreham

"They never soak away into the ground and end up in the sea.

"It’s my future, please help to look after our planet. Thank you.”

If the shop answered no, Gabriel explained: “I said well done.”

He has now made certificates to celebrate places which have agreed to stop using plastic straws and plans to hand them out this weekend.

His mother said: “I’m really proud of him. He is very strong minded and very mindful of the environment.

“The younger generation seem to be a bit better at that, it’s more natural and more embedded in them to recyle and other things. His school has been really lovely and has recognised what he has done.”

She said the response to the campaign had been ‘lovely and positive’, with many establishments vowing to change their policies.

Russell Carter, general manager at The Royal Sovereign Pub in Middle Street, said the pub switched to using paper straws instead of plastic the very same day.

He said: “We are behind it. It’s a great thing this young man has done to bring it to all of our attention. We all need to be concerned with the environment and the effect on the sea.”