Switching to Bamboo Straws – We talk to Claudia Hopkins from We Care Collective

Words: Julie Velosa

Meet Claudia Hopkins, she’s a woman on a mission. A mission to reduce single-use plastic impact and to keep our oceans clean, and that’s something worth talking about. Claudia is the brains behind We Care Collective, a burgeoning business that is creating awareness around single-use plastics usage – specifically straws and providing an alternative through bamboo straws. We chat to Claudia to find out more about what she’s getting up to.

Bamboo straws - we_care_collective-Claudia-Hopkins

Can you tell us a bit about We Care Collective?

We Care Collective is an inclusive and forward-thinking company that offers eco-friendly, sustainable products that are not only designed well, but also encourage you to feel like a hero for using them.

Our community is made up of recyclers, reducetarians, ocean and nature lovers, conscious CEO’s, concerned dads and moms, your above average Joe’s, and everyone else who knows that the only way to keep on keeping on in this world, is through adopting a sustainable attitude.

Can you tell us how you got started?

I always had a love for the beach/ocean. My late mother raised us to be mindful of our environment and the effects that consumerism had on our planet.

It really hit home when I went to Slide Night (held each December by Wavescape). Two Oceans Aquarium did a talk on rehabilitating turtles and the effect that plastic has on our oceans and marine life.  They showed that famous video of a straw being removed from a turtle’s nostril (Note: video is graphic with strong language) and I promised myself I would never use a plastic straw again.

I went to Bali that same year and discovered bamboo straws and I knew that I had to create awareness and get people to think differently about single-use plastic.

What is your vision for We Care Collective?

We Care Collective believes that doing your bit adds up to a lot. By offering practical solutions to everyday waste problems, living green is not only easier but feels awesome too. We are not all or nothing, instead, all or something. Everyone has their part to play.


Why specifically have you taken on the cause of straws?

The main aim is single-use plastic in general, but I had to start somewhere! My aim is to grow my company and create as much awareness in every way possible.

Refusing or keeping a reusable straw in one’s bag is a small and easy step that people can take but is one that will make a big change for the future.

Zero waste scares people, so I am trying a subtler approach by making it relevant and creating awareness.

Can you tell us what impact plastic straws have on the environment?

Straws are used for a few minutes only and are then disposed of. An estimated 6 billion are used a day! They aren’t recyclable and take over 200 years to decompose! They were invented in the 60s and are chemically made up (i.e. they contain BPA).

Here’s a scary thought… every straw ever made still exists!

They are the top 10 items found on beach cleanups and once they decompose, they turn into microplastics that enter our water systems and oceans. Marine life eat this and then land up on our plates to be consumed.

Some staggering statistics about plastic straws

  • An estimated 6 billion plastic straws get used a day.
  • Plastic straws are the TOP 10 litter found on beach cleanups.
  • 80-90% of marine debris is made up of plastic.
  • Straws can’t be recycled, once off usage!
  • Chemically made-up and releases toxins when re-used.
  • Plastic straws contain BPA.
  • They take 200 years to decompose.
  • Fossil fuels are used to make them.
  • McDonald’s alone uses 60 million straws DAILY worldwide.


What is so unique about bamboo straws?

  • Bamboo grows extremely fast, making it environmentally friendly.
  • Bamboo straws are hand cut, hollowed out and air dried.
  • They are natural and reusable, biodegradable, and 100% organic
  • Easy to clean, dishwashable and once they became brittle they can be composted.
  • They are a natural product so the sizing does differ, making each one unique.
  • They are kid friendly, can be dropped without getting damaged and do not make your beverage taste any different!

Note: Due to the fact that the product is completely natural, sizing and lifespan will vary. As the straw wears, it can become brittle. Please always check before use, especially before giving to children.


Where can people find We Care Collective’s bamboo straws?

They can be ordered directly through We Care Collective or are available at these stores just to list a few:

Faithful to Nature
Nourish’D (Cape Town)
Whole Earth Café (Scarborough)
Hang 10 Café (Muizenberg)
Olive Deli (Cape Town)
LaCuccina (Hout Bay)
Faith Juice (Noordhoek)
Southern Grind (Kommetjie)
Low Impact Loving Waste free Co-op (Glencairn)
Nina’s (Jeffrey’s Bay)
Infoods (Jeffrey’s Bay)

A few restaurants/ bars and cafés have purchased bamboo straws to use as alternatives for their clients, please ask – your demand creates supply! If you feel strange using a straw that someone else has used, remember that you use a glass, a plate a knife and a fork too, they all get washed in the same way.


Last thoughts….

With nearly 6 billion non-recyclable, non-reusable, chemically made up, plastic straws destroying our lands, oceans, and animals, this practical step to save our planet is a simple no-brainer.

We Care Collective’s mission is for the world to have less waste so that you, your kids, and future generations to follow, can continue to enjoy and appreciate the environment. Less plastic use means more swimming with marine life, more hiking in the mountains, and more sustainable adventures in our future.

If those are not reasons enough to stop using straws immediately, we don’t know what are!

Find out more about how you can reduce your personal plastic pollution impact by removing other single-use plastics from your daily life. Also, get clued up on what you can recycle, as well as the best recycling companies in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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