Here’s a fun factoid for you: It can take up to 200 years for a plastic straw to degrade on its own. So, in other words, that five minutes of tasty beverage means we’ve got to find some place to stick that sucker (no pun intended) for a couple hundred years.
Plastics are the bane of the environment. They’re usually engineered to be used one time only and then tossed aside like a bad prom date. We chuck them in the trash and then it’s someone else’s problem and we can get back to the important business of watching T.V. and bitching about politics on Facebook.
Those things don’t go away, though. The plastic straw takes centuries to return to the Earth and the plastic the damned thing is wrapped in takes decades to go away.
I get it, convenience is a cool thing to have. A sterile, plastic-wrapped straw just feels safe in a world where diseases are getting sentient and everyone has conveniently forgotten how to wash their hands. But there are better ways of dealing with this problem that don’t suck so much.
By now, I’m sure everyone has seen the turtle with the straw stuck up its nose. If you haven’t, you can see it here. It’s pretty unpleasant, so be forewarned. The problem, though, isn’t a single turtle with a single straw up its nose. For all we know, that turtle was a coke addict and things got out of hand. The problem is the sheer amount of crap we use once and toss out. Americans alone toss out 500 million plastic straws every day. That’s enough to fill 125 school buses with single-use straws every fucking day.
Think about that for a moment. And then multiple it by 365. And then realize that 182.5 billion straws are getting thrown out each year. That’s a lot of trash for something that doesn’t even need to be used. While I’m sure the plastic straw industrial complex will fight it tooth and nail, there are alternatives: paper straws, reusable steel and plastic straws, or not using a straw at all. Even coke-heads know enough to bring their own straw.
So, how is this news that doesn’t suck? Well, for starters, there’s no such thing as suck. Sucking changes pressure and in order to equalize pressure, nature pushes liquids (and cocaine) forward. Also, more and more companies are looking at plastic straws and saying, “Take a hike, dipshit”. Some of this is public pressure, some of it stems from sea turtles with stuffed up noses, and some it comes from trash found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
The good news of the day? The Walt Disney Company is getting rid of plastic straws (and other things) by 2019. Starbucks is doing the same thing. Eventually, plastic straws will be a thing of the past. Don’t worry, I’m sure there will still be some for those of you that want a “real goddamned straw”, but the rest of us will have moved on.
Then, in only a couple hundred years, plastic straws will vanish for good. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Personally, I’m going to forgo straws entirely, but in the rare instances where I feel I need one, it’ll be a cubic zirconia-encrusted straw with “Pimp Daddy” written on it. That should make me look classy.
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And now, your moment of Zen.