Thursday, August 2, 2018

Ahead of My Time

It was when I was in high school that someone first told me about the evils of plastic straws. I don’t remember if it was a professional environmentalist or just a simple teenager like myself who worried about pollution. He, or she, stated that two thousand years from now when archaeologists would dig up American soil they would come to the obvious conclusion that straws, which had never decomposed, had been our idols.
Immediately I was able to imagine landfills full of synthetic cylinders, some brightly colored, other with stripes, all with teeth marks on them. 

courtesy of

It wasn’t a pretty thought and I decided, right then and there, that I could drink perfectly fine without a plastic straw. So could everyone else and I began my campaign.

There’s nothing more obnoxious than a converted sinner and I soon learned to tone down my criticism of straw users. Still, every time I ordered a drink I’d request it come without a straw. The size of my tip was always dependant on whether my waitress ignored my request or not.

That request almost always generated discussion, often not supportive. How can you drink a milkshake without a straw? I never drank milkshakes so it was hard for me to understand the problem. I did suggest using a spoon. What about disposable cups? I tried to avoid Styrofoam and use the cardboard variety. Do you use Pampers? Obviously that question began a few years later, once I was a mother.

Truthfully, with my first child I really did not. We had a diaper service and intended to use it with our second child but she seemed to have a skin allergy to the detergent the service used. I tried my best to rationalize my switch. After all, how much water was being wasted washing diapers? Deep in my heart, though, I had to admit I wasn’t a purist. However, I never compromised on the straws.

This past winter I began to realize there were others who thought as I did. In New Mexico there was an initiative called Strawless Sante Fe. The idea was not to outlaw straws but rather encourage businesses to stop using them Apparently this was inspired by Seattle, Washington where straws are officially being banned as in Malibu, California, and Miami Beach, Florida.

If that was not enough to encourage me that I’d been on the right path all alongStarbucks made an announcement on July 9th. It plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 company operated stores all over the world by making a strawless lid or alternative-material straw option available.

Of course, there are the nay-sayers who are concerned about the health impaired who need to drink with a straw. As I understand it, though, that’s why Starbucks is developing the alternate-material straw. Not only do I want them to be successful, I hope their commitment to the environment spreads from business to business. It took almost fifty years but now I’ve been vindicated.

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