My Problem with the No Straw Movement

By: Malena Esposito  

I care about the environment, and I care about the waste I produce — I really do. But personally, this whole “No Straw Movement” is a bit bothersome. Allow me to explain.

I know that straws are bad. I know that they pollute the Earth. I know that they kill sea animals. I know the consequences of using a plastic straw, and I’m not saying that I use one, because I don’t. I’m just saying that the issue at hand is ubiquitous and a lot larger than something you use to drink with.

People joke about this all the time. “Don’t use a straw, a sea turtle just died.” “Oh, you have a straw? You’re a bad person and don’t care about the environment.” “So what? It’s just a straw. What’s the big deal? Why can’t I use one?”

But it is such a big deal. And people just don’t get it. In my personal opinion and experience, just because someone doesn’t use a straw doesn’t mean they care about the environment. It’s pretty easy to just skip the step and drink from your mouth, which I guess is what makes the movement so appealing. Straws are annoying anyways, right? You have to keep banging it on a table to get the paper off. They break and/or have holes in them, completely defeating the purpose of abstaining to use them. And now that so many restaurants are a part of this “No Straw Movement,” it’s easier than ever to feel good about your “contribution” to the environment.

But the problem runs much deeper than from the cup and to your mouth. What about all the others sources of waste you create? Plastic utensils, paper cups, styrofoam take-out boxes? What about the plastic bags you put your vegetables in at the grocery store? Have you even considered the waste that comes from product packaging? And did you know pizza boxes can’t be recycled? Neither can juice boxes, wire hangers, or even plastic bags.

Don’t even get me started on animal agriculture. The amount of resources that it takes for a single chicken wing or hot dog is insane. One hamburger takes 660 gallons of water to produce, the equivalent of not showering for two months. The waste from a dairy farm of 2500 dairy cows is comparable to the waste from a city of 411,000 people. 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock and their byproducts, while 13% come from the transportation of such “commodities.” Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of amazon destruction… But back to the straws…

If you really cared about the environment, you would act like it all the time, not just when you see it on Twitter or go out to eat. And let’s be honest, how many times do you really ask for no straw? Caring about the environment is so easy, easier than you think.

When you go to grocery stores, bring your own bags, or ask for paper ones. If they’re a bulk section, bring your own containers or mason jars. Cashiers will be happy to weigh them beforehand so you don’t get charged extra for the mass.

When you go out to eat, bring your own tupperware if you think you won’t finish it all. Ask for metal silverware or bring you own. Don’t forget to ask for no straw, either!

When it comes to your own house, try to reuse or recycle what you can. Buy your own water bottles, use soda cans as plant pots, water bottles as bird feeders, cereal boxes as magazines…

Bottom line: be mindful. The waste we produce impacts all of us. Try to consider the more ethical option. Don’t just throw anything anywhere, whenever. I’m not saying you have to live a zero waste lifestyle and make your own toothpaste, but please, be considerate. Just because you don’t care about sea turtles doesn’t mean nobody else does.



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