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We need to talk about straws

triangle straws

Festival of Triangles and plastic straws – finding a sustainable alternative 


Maths on Toast‘s Festival of Triangles is a triangle-themed maths week. To date, 40 primary schools across the country have held one. It is a hands-on, creative resource involving a series of teacher-led classroom-based activities culminating in a whole-school family event where parents, carers, teachers and children construct a giant mathematical structure of a Sierpinski tetrahedron.

It looks like this!


Maths on Toast Festival of Triangles at Hautes Cappelles Primary School

So why are we talking about straws?

Well, the giant tetrahedron is crafted from lots of smaller tetrahedrons which are constructed from plastic straws. Unfortunately, paper straws are not flexible or bendy enough to make the structure.

 triangle straws

Environmentally aware educationalists must regularly weigh up the educational benefits of creative activities, against the fact that certain materials used may not be ideal environmentally. Maths on Toast is fully aware of the environmental problems created by single-use plastic.  Happily, though, biodegradable alternatives are becoming more and more available.

In our own activities, we try to follow the 3 environmental R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Where this is not possible, we ensure that all waste is disposed of responsibly. This is the approach we will take whilst using up our stock of standard plastic straws and equally we ask schools that run our Festival of Triangles activity to ensure that all plastic straws are disposed of properly.

Biodegradable bendy straws, along with biodegradable cable ties, have been successfully used at a recent Festival of Triangles and we hope to be able to discontinue the use of single-use plastic straws for all future festivals.

We welcome advice from anyone who has knowledge or expertise in the field of sustainable plastics. We’d love to hear from you if you can offer advice or recommend further biodegradable or recyclable alternatives.

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