Straw poll debate

By Reade Brower | Oct 03, 2019

Randy, one doesn’t need to do a “straw poll” to know our generation has been horrible with waste and is leaving a lot to be desired when it comes to caring about the future environment for our children, our grandchildren and beyond.

Your “Stop the Silliness” may be technically correct that banning plastic straws won’t fix our ecology or prevent global warning; nor are they dangerous weapons ― although a poke in the eye is always a possibility if one has smoked too much weed.

Straws are symbolic of the waste society thinks is OK; when the Trump campaign decided to make a mockery of this notion, it showed that, in addition to not believing in science and global warning, they believe waste on our planet is a joke.

As an environmental activist who tried to save the world while smoking pot, you somehow lost your mojo from the ’60s and ’70s when you were “actively stopping sulfur dioxide and stuff being tossed haphazardly into the ocean.” While you say those days are “long gone” and not needed anymore, it would appear that this administration is deregulating anything it can and everything it shouldn’t, taking us back to a place where you might just need to get out your bell bottoms again.

Your argument stinks (that’s a joke) that environmentalists are left with nothing to do; this doesn’t need to be backed up by facts and stats, just using common sense should be enough for us to realize that global warming is the most dangerous issue of today; perhaps more so than North Korea, Iran and the threat of nuclear war.

Your hippie days will be for naught if this doesn’t stop and, while banning plastic straws won’t fix the problem, having the mindset to find more innovative ways to suck up your iced coffees will.

The basic premise here is that being aware of a problem is the start of a solution; being unaware or cavalier is the beginning of the end.

As for the future of the straw, how about promoting some simple fixes? Reusable straws might be a solution; not sure if they can be washed alongside the forks and knives, but if they can, let’s do it. Let’s get science and our entrepreneurs to find paper solutions that work; not the flimsy straws that suck (or don’t suck), but straws that are pleasing and fun.

In the “good old days,” one could go to a nearby Friendly’s for their famous “Fribble” and receive a very cool flexi-straw. It would bend into your mouth; even the chunks of ice cream could break through. There must be a way to replicate that with paper and wax. Or perhaps wood straws are the ticket.

We can agree on your suggestion that plastic water bottles get banned; plastic takes centuries to degrade and that’s why we can’t just ignore this while sipping away on our cold drinks.

Restaurants share a big role in this; it would save them money if they stopped putting straws automatically in every glass of water or soda they serve. What about having straws by request only?

What about a “straw tax”; a nickel for every straw that would go to an environmental fund? After a recent movie, a trip into Applebee’s was telling. Looking around, from table to table, every water and every drink had a straw; my “straw poll” saw about half of them out of the cup. Since Applebee’s is a national chain of 2,100 restaurants, this observation leads to wasted plastic straws multiplied over and over again.

On the reverse, our local Renys store gives its customers a shiny 5-cent piece if they bring their own bag; that sends the right message and lets us know that Renys is a neighbor business and partner in our lives that cares about the environment and waste.

In summary, the attitude that we don’t need to do anything about the plastic in the world is lame and inconsiderate; this lack of consideration for our children and grandchildren might even be the “last straw” in the debate about what we want to leave behind for our future generations.

How about we add the word “reusable” to your summary statement: “Fill-up an ice-cold glass, stick in a nice, 'reusable' plastic straw, and fire-up a doobie. Life gets no better!”


“If more politicians in this country were thinking about the next generation instead of the next election, it might be better for the United States and the world.” ― Claude Pepper, senator and representative (1900-1989)

Comments (1)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Oct 03, 2019 11:54

"The basic premise here is that being aware of a problem is the start of a solution; being unaware or cavalier is the beginning of the end."   Indeed, there simply is no excuse for this environmental carnage.


"...   every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world!

Lying halfway between Asia and North America, north of the Hawaiian archipelago, and surrounded by water for thousands of miles on all sides, the Midway Atoll is about as remote as a place can get. However, Midways’ isolation has not spared it from the great plastic tide either, receiving massive quantities of plastic debris, shot out from the North Pacific circular motion of currents (gyre). Midways’ beaches, covered with large debris and millions of plastic particles in place of the sand, are suffocating, envenomed by the slow plastic poison continuously washing ashore.

Then, on shore, the spectacle becomes even more poignant, as thousands of bird corpses rest on these beaches, piles of colorful plastic remaining where there stomachs had been. In some cases, the skeleton had entirely biodegraded; yet the stomach-size plastic piles are still present, intact. Witnesses have watched in horror seabirds choosing plastic pieces, red, pink, brown and blue, because of their similarity to their own food. It is estimated that of the 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses which inhabit Midway, all of them have plastic in their digestive system; for one third of the chicks, the plastic blockage is deadly, coining Midway Atoll as “albatross graveyards” by five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, who recently filmed and photographed the catastrophic effects of the plastic pollution there.

From the whale, sea lions, and birds to the microscopic organisms called zooplankton, plastic has been, and is, greatly affecting marine life on shore and off shore. In a 2006 report, Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, Greenpeace stated that at least 267 different animal species are known to have suffered from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes.

The United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), estimated that land-based sources account for up to 80 percent of the world’s marine pollution, 60 to 95 percent of the waste being plastics debris."

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