Hayley Matthews: It sucks that careless people still scatter straws at the seaside

With the lovely weather that we’ve had this week, we decided to take our recovering seven-year-old (after getting his tonsils out) to Portobello beach for some R&R.

Saturday, 31st August 2019, 6:00 am
Hayley found lots of plastic straws on Portobello Beach. Picture: Michael Gillen

Don’t worry, I’m not going to moan about the bins on the promenade, they were actually good. The beach itself however – not so great.

After sitting with baby Oryn on the sand for a bit I noticed a whiff. He’d grabbed a dried up dog poo, at least I’m hoping it was a dog poo, and he was aiming it for his mouth (yes I’m still getting over that too!). I started to scan the sand for other offending articles and amount of plastic straws that were poking out the sand seemed endless.

There’s an image that stays with me of a sea turtle having a straw pulled out its nostrils. I was horrified, but it made me realise that we just never know where our litter will end up, or who it will harm.

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But seriously, I can’t believe that we are still leaving plastic straws on the beach! There might not be much chance of seeing a sea turtle at Porty but it’s actually sea birds who are the most affected creatures when it comes to stray straws.

About one million or more seabirds die of choking every year from ingesting plastic straws and scientific studies report that 80-90 per cent of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside their stomachs.

Because you never know where they could end up, I started collecting them despite my efforts feeling like a drop in the ocean.

We’re doing so much damage and it’s all down to our own laziness. But I’d rather deal with dried-up dog poo on the beach over plastic straws any day of the week.

M8 smash brought back crash memory

About 15 years ago I had a really bad accident on the M8. It was 5.30am in the middle of October and it had been raining. It was really dark so I was startled by seeing a fox in the central reservation. I panicked and swerved – not on purpose, it was just a natural reaction. This was on the bend at Livingston and it didn’t end well.

I was facing the wrong way in seconds then after a few rolls I ended upside down on the grass verge.

I was trapped in my seatbelt and couldn’t reach the door handle to open it. However it did open – weirdly, but that’s a story for another day. I swear to this day there was some sort of spiritual intervention as I can’t explain the door opening after being trapped shut. Anyway, I always ask those up there who may or may not be watching to help me drive on the M8 safely.

During the week I was seconds away from a really bad accident and not far from where I had the accident at Livingston. It was awful to watch as I saw a white van shoot up in the air and about five other cars collided right in front of me. I hope everyone was OK, as it was very scary to watch.

It really is worth keeping your distance on the M8, it really can be a very dangerous road.