GOOD…what were you thinking?
Sometimes I forget that there are still a ton of people out there who don’t realize how wasteful single-use plastic items are. So first, a brief thanks to you, GOOD, for grounding me a bit and for giving me fodder to write this post.
First, if you haven’t yet, please read (in full) this editorial from GOOD writer Sarah Laskow, entitled “London Restaurants Shame Drinkers Into Saying No To Plastic Straws.”
Here’s where I get frustrated:
“But smart consumers know that the truly sustainable choices are the ones that would have the largest impact if everyone made them—living in smaller spaces, using less energy to heat and cool those spaces, eating less meat, and using less gas to get around.”
Yes, big issues like climate change, dietary preferences and sustainable development are all real and pressing issues that need attention…but since when have greenies started ranking environmentally conscious choices? Plastic is an issue too: it’s made in factories powered by fossil fuels and it turns out, is actually composed of those same fossil fuels. There’s the link to climate change. Single-use plastic doesn’t biodegrade and it perpetuates in the environment for years. It gets into the food chain, it attracts toxic chemicals, it itself is toxic. There’s the dietary connection. Nothing about plastic straws (or bags, bottles and utensils, for that matter) is sustainable, logical or healthy. It’s a big problem that’s only getting bigger.
To say that this issue – of plastic straw usage – is trivial and something for people to latch on to “feel green” is absurd. Why is our crusade to fight against unnecessary plastic pollution deemed “silly”? Did the writer stop to consider that there are real people (right here, here and here) behind these anti-plastics campaign that really, truly believe that this is a cause worth fighting for? I’m not so sure, because if she did, this article probably wouldn’t have been posted.
For a person who is already using a refillable water bottle and who says “no” to plastic bags, saying “no” to plastic straws might be their way of taking another step in the green direction, and that’s awesome. Contrary to what this article tries to sell, small changes really can add up. Small steps are what help people gain the confidence they need to start making those bigger changes. Ask anyone.
I can totally understand how this looks: “Oh, another cause to join…” but hey, pick what you want and what you know you can accomplish. Personally, asking for my drink with “no straw, please” just became second nature. I saw what was out there in the Pacific Ocean (yes, it was plastic and no, it wasn’t pretty) and decided to make a change. For some people, they come to the realization that meat production is unsustainable and against their morals so they stop eating it. We should be celebrating the fact that more and more of these environmentally aware campaigns are coming to light because it means that many more people are seeing the light and taking action.
Sure, some people will buy straws and forget to use them but that happens with any “cause.” People will come around, you just have to give them a chance. And they’ll come around faster if we have more legislation like what the city of London is proposing: no straws unless you ask. My guess is that most customers won’t even realize their straw is missing. Success.
What’s sort of hilarious about this is that all the people in this argument are on the same side. We all think climate change is real, that it’s happening now and that we need to do something in a BIG way. We probably also all think that factory farming is beyond stupid and that over-fishing is pure and total insanity. Refusing single-use plastics is just another step in the process towards a more sustainable future for ourselves and for those that come after us.
Think twice before you bash us plastic-fighting folk. We’re a feisty bunch.