A HIGHLAND village has become the first in the UK to bin plastic straws – thanks to campaigning schoolchildren.

Every pub, cafe and restaurant in coastal community Ullapool has agreed to ditch the single-use straws in favour of greener alternatives.

Just one business, the local supermarket, still offers them, but even this will stop stocking the product early next year.

The development comes as eco-activists around the globe attempt to stem the tide of plastic pollution entering the world's oceans and follows campaigning by pupils from Ullapool Primary, with help from Sunnyside Primary in Glasgow.

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The city kids are working to raise awareness of the impact of plastic in their own community, and visited their Ullapool counterparts in September.

Pupils visited local businesses to convince owners to change their practices as part of their #NaeStrawAtAw drive.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham called them "an example" for other communities and Noel Hawkins of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which supported the children, said: "This achievement is wholly down to pupil-power.

"The children from Sunnyside Primary School have done a great deal to raise awareness within Glasgow and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the local kids when they came to Ullapool in September.

"The pupils went door to door to speak directly to businesses, and this has clearly had an impact.

"I’d like to thank everyone involved for taking action after listening to the concerns of these youngsters."

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Hawkins, the charity's Living Seas Community's Officer, added: “Living on the coast means we constantly see the impact of a throwaway attitude to plastic, both on our beaches and in our seas.

"Finding plastic drinking straws during beach cleans is particularly frustrating because there alternative products are available.

"This may be a small step towards reducing the amount of plastic in our seas, but if the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign can be successful in Ullapool, it can work anywhere. All it takes is for people to be aware there are alternatives to plastic straws, and say no if they are offered one in a pub or a restaurant.”

Caillin Erin Patterson, an 11-year-old from Ullapool Primary, said: "There's no need for plastic straws. If you do use a straw it shouldn't be a throwaway one. We're killing our seas with single-use plastic and it's just not necessary.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 1.5 million tonnes of plastic are released into the oceans every year.

Meanwhile, an average of 138 pieces of food and drink related waste, including plastic straws, were found on every 100 metres of UK beach during the Great British Clean earlier this year.

The Seaforth Hotel in Ullapool said making the change away from the disposables will not adversely affect its business.

A spokesperson said: "The Seaforth is proud to be a part of the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign. We're thrilled that the children from Ullapool Primary and Sunnyside Primary are making such a huge difference.

"The Seaforth is passionate about keeping the oceans clean. We have a great history in fishery and we are well known for our delicious seafood dishes.

"We will continue to support Ullapool Primary and Sunnyside Primary in their campaign – fantastic work."

Meanwhile, Cunningham commented: “Congratulations to the Ullapool community for recognising the problem of plastic straws and taking action.

"This is an example to communities across the country of the bold steps they can take to protect our marine environment.

“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the issue of ocean plastics and has prioritised actions in its Programme for Government.

"This includes introducing a deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and reduce littering, considering environmental levies and other options to reduce the demand for single-use products such as coffee-cups, pledging funds to help address the issue of litter sink areas around our coastline and hosting an international conference on protecting our marine environment.”