Reducing plastic or just grasping at straws??

Reducing plastic or just grasping at straws??

by Guest Blogger Kyera Cook

Who would have guessed that small plastic tubes would be getting as much media attention as the newest addition to the Royal Family?! At this point it seems most are aware of the negative environmental impacts of the disposable plastics. No one wants a plastic straw stuck up a turtle’s nose or to end up in the belly of an albatross. And we are also making the connection between plastics as a petroleum product and the dependency on fossil fuels. But then why does it feel so awkward to look at your bartender and say, “no straw please”? And how in the heck are we supposed to drink that delicious frappamochamilkshakaccino without a straw?

Let’s back up a bit.

Straws, Plastic, History of Straws, Plastic Straw

A Brief History of Drinking Straws

It seems archaeologist and historians have found artifacts that tell us some form of straw has been used for thousands of years. Ironically, the straws in ancient civilizations were used for one of the drinks no one uses straws for anymore… beer![1]

So is this all some kind of conspiracy here? If we don’t need straws to filter the sediment out of beer anymore, what do we need them for?

Well, straws do come with a dentist’s recommendation – get the acidity to bypass your teeth via a straw and keep your dentist happy.[2] Speaking of keeping people happy, who doesn’t have a fond memory of shooting the paper wrapping from a straw into your siblings eye. And I bet the people washing your glassware surely appreciate fewer lipstick smears. On that note, I have also heard a rumour that drinking through a straw gets you ‘drunker faster’…

That’s it then? I’m not so sure it’s drunk people with great teeth and perfect lipstick alone who are using 500 million straws per day.

In my opinion, this cultural phenomenon most likely got its momentum from the same source as other disposables. Convenience & Sanitation. Plastic straws came about at the perfect time – when take-out fast food was hitting the ground running. And the trend grew as fears of food-borne illness shaped desires for sterile eating conditions.

Now what… Can we have our milkshake and drink it too?

As the problem of plastic pollution is gaining recognition, many are demanding we ban the straw. So whose responsibility is it? Do governments need to be taking a stand, should companies be changing their practices, should the consumer be coming up with an alternative? And will any or all of this help address the plastic issue?

For now I’m off to compare the taste of a mojito through straws made of metal, corn, paper, glass, candy or Junglewood bamboo 😉 wish me luck! And if you’d like more info on the plastic straw sitch or want to join a pledge to get rid of plastic straws, check out these badass campaigns: