Maya Rose Frankel is a politics student at UCL & passionate supporter of not sucking. Read her blog here to find out more:
I don’t use straws, and neither should you. I don’t think you will need much convincing, and in any case, you shouldn’t.
I can start with the facts. Over 500 million plastic straws are used daily in the United States alone, and over half of these will end up in the ocean. I can also tell you how there is more plastic than there are fish in the ocean, and that by 2050 these numbers may double. But facts tend to be redundant and science has proven relatively (yet sadly) inefficient in appealing to our interest through numbers. So let me appeal to your ego.
Our compulsion for straws is merely a symptom of a consumer-driven society, fabricating needs that have no basis in reality. When conducting random interviews as to why people use straws, I was given many answers – all equally vague – akin to “liking the feeling” or “not hurting my teeth”. I, myself, used straws religiously in order to avoid any potential lipstick residue on glasses, and sometimes just as a distraction. Not a single answer included the word “need”.
None of us could admit to an irreplaceable utility of the plastic straw.
Take a moment to think of the last time, or the last three or four times you used a straw. Can you think of a single instance in which this straw proved invaluable to your drinking experience? If so, then by all means, invest in a paper or metal one! Other than that, I urge you to avoid plastic straws like the plague. For ultimately, their use can prove just as devastating to our earth as the plague itself. I know it’s an extreme analogy – but I assure you that it stands. The main obstacle is the latency of the destruction that is caused by plastic straws and similar waste. Indeed, if you were to see someone with sores and boils, coughing up blood, then you could immediately identify clear signs of the plague and flee accordingly. However, it is incredibly hard to see someone in a club, holding a drink with a plastic straw innocently placed in its centre, as holding up one of the main causes of our ecosystems’ demise. But try and get that image in your mind, and I promise you will not forget.
We are so used to being chastised about the apocalyptic nature of human waste that it is hard to still believe that we can make a difference, as individuals. But we CAN and we SHOULD. Refusing to endorse the catastrophic and quite simply ridiculous mass production of plastic straws is a wonderful first step.