Shopping & Consumption

#CutTheCrap: The Last Straw


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Muni on this:

At McDonald’s, a person presses the straw dispenser on the counter after ordering.  A straw rolls into his waiting palm.  The person after him will do the same thing ― and the one after, and the one after.

And it happens every day, at every fast food chain in the world. And maybe it’s because straws are such a common thing that we underestimate their impact.

straws

Research estimates that 500 million disposable straws are used daily ― enough to fill over 46,400 large school buses a year [1].  Twenty-two percent of marine mammals and twice as many seabirds ingest plastic [2], so while it is likely that they have eaten bits of other material, it is also likely that they may have swallowed your straws.

There are two alternatives to the common straw: compostable straws and reusable straws.  The former is usually made from ingredients like corn oil so they are biodegradable, unlike the ones mostly used today.  While this is more eco-friendly, Ecocycle.org points out that they are still disposable [3].  Mass production encourages mass use, especially if they are readily offered free of charge to any customer at all kinds of restaurants.

It can be assumed that this availability stems from the treatment of straws as a common necessity for any dining experience.  So try to re-evaluate:  How much do we really need our straws?  Do we need then as much as we think?  Why do we use straws in the first place?

work.2023092.2.flat550x550075f.drinking-straw

Consider this: drinking from a cup never hurt anyone.  But if a straw is a must, other options are readily available in the market− ones made from stainless steel, glass, hard reusable plastic, and even bamboo [3].  These are portable and efficient for anyone who needs a straw, but restaurants and local businesses might want to consider this option too.

Say Goodbye to Straw Waste

Understandably, implementing a straw ban would be a difficult process― especially for commercial establishments.  For both business owners and individuals, here are some things you could do to minimize your impact:

Adopt an offer first policy.  The rule requires restaurant employees to ask whether or not the customer needs or wants a straw before packing it.  Most customers might see themselves enjoying without it anyway, and so less is gone to waste.

Think cost-effective.  Serving drinks with glasses of stainless steel or glass might be costly, but it’s a one-time investment.  Furthermore, disposable straws run out quickly and need constant replacement.  If you are an established business, you might be able to save more by investing in straws that will last, rather than spending repeatedly on disposables every week or month.

 steel straws

Propose a tumbler tumble.  While a number of universities implement the Bring Your Own Baunan (BYOB) initiative, a tumbler campaign is the latter’s counterpart for drinks.  The idea is to discourage students from the unnecessary purchasing of cups, bottles, and straws when buying drinks at the school cafeteria by providing a discount for those who bring their own containers.  Students or teachers can easily present this idea at their own institutions.

Recycle.  Straws can be good source material for art and handicrafts.  With the aid of bulbs and a few other tools, you can transform them to lamps, containers, and even sculptures. Check out local industries such as GKonomics and the Invisible Sisters.

straw art

Launch your own straw-free campaign.  11-year-old Milo Cress did it first. [4][5]  The student environmentalist succeeded in getting the word around and now schools and restaurants from the United States – as well as South Korea and Canada – have adopted the policy.

The consumption of straws is a grab-and-go culture that is not a result of the industry’s spewing of disposables, but actually its very foundation.  The manpower behind it is precisely that: individuals.  But in the same way that we can turn on the machine, we can also turn it off.  Maybe it’s because people are such a common thing that we underestimate our impact.

GKonomics: Website | Facebook | Blogspot

Invisible Sisters: Website | Facebook

Image Sources:

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s