The last straw. Refuse it!

The last straw / The final straw: A further difficulty or annoyance, typically minor in itself but coming on top of a series of difficulties, that makes a situation unbearable. 

greenokplease plastic waste
A huge garbage dump or landfill littered with plastic straws amongst other plastic waste.

Let me start off by saying that a plastic straw is not a minor difficulty, not by the furthest stretch of anyone’s imagination. A straw, that simple cylindrical tube that assists in drinking liquids, came from humble beginnings. The earliest straws were made of natural materials like rye and then paper. In the 1950s, plastic straws came into being. They were cheaper and more durable, just like most other single use plastic items.

I’ve realised quite recently and unfortunately so, that statistics tend to remain just that. I could tell you that the world uses more than a billion (that’s a 1000 million!) straws every single day. I could also tell you that in India alone, there are 25000 tons of plastic waste discarded every single day. Only 20% of this is actually recycled. There are a dozen more astonishing facts I could tell you but what I really want to do, is show you!

The story about this turtle with a plastic straw stuck in his nostril went viral on the internet in 2015. For most, it has been a painful sight since then. This image makes me sad every time I see it, yet it also makes me want to do something about it. (For those smart alecks who want to counter with a jab on meat and sea food eaters not having a right to say this, I have another post for you.) I recently moved to Goa and the issue of the plastic straw became closer to my heart. Partly because of my proximity to the beach and seeing firsthand the piles of straws. Mainly because of the amount of cold beverages that are consumed here and I see how thoughtlessly the server drops a plastic straw, sometimes two into a glass of lemonade. If you’re reading this and would like to help me combat this mounting problem, please get in touch via email or instagram. (top right)

Refuse the straw: You don’t really need a straw unless you have a health condition that makes you depend on a straw to consume a beverage without spilling it all over. Even then you don’t need one, it’s just a convenience for a few minutes, and a waste for centuries. @ Owners of bars and restaurants, please stop dropping straws into drinks – they’re not adding ANY value at all.

Reuse the straw: Love straw / Need straw / Can’t do without straw? Then, bring your own, make it a reusable one. There are many options available now when it comes to long lasting drinking straws that can be easily carried in your bag or your pocket. Straight straws, bent straws, steel straws and bamboo straws.

Recycle the straw: Honestly, there’s no excuse for single use AT ALL. For me, slowly the 3 R’s that I am trying to live by are turning in to Refuse, Reduce and Reuse. Recycle when you can, but honestly we’re creating and using and destroying some of these items way faster than we can recycle them. So my suggestion is to bear the slight inconvenience if you really must use a straw and carry your own.

If you own or work at a bar, restaurant or commercial institution that serves single-use plastic straws, and feel compelled to serve straws so as to not lose out on customers or disappoint customers, I’m happy to discuss a few alternate ideas that could work – from retailing steel straws, to running promotions and prizes for eco-conscious customers, there are various options available if you’re willing to try them. Reach out to me at greenokplease@gmail.com.

Glass with long lasting plastic straw
There are many durable and economic alternatives to single use, disposable cutlery and straws.

I’ll end this post by saying that skepticism and cynicism won’t get us anywhere, even a single step in the right direction will. Even that one plastic straw that you used by mistake, could be the one that ends up choking a sea creature, or it could end up in YOUR stomach through a fish that you end up eating!

 

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