By Ying Wong
Am I a bad person for hating straws and the people who use them?
Every time I see a friend or someone I respect using a straw, or a plastic cup, or some other form of single-use disposable plastic that is easy to replace with a reusable alternative, I shudder a little. My brain immediately whirrs, attempting justify why they might be using one. Are they a child? Have they lost sensation in their hands? Are they afraid to stain their teeth? Does this make it okay?
If there can be no logical reason, I’ve found I’ll pass a moral judgment on this person. I’ve never said this aloud because I’m afraid that this opinion makes me bad, arrogant, or just plain stupid (mind your own business, one might say).
Perhaps this is tied to some kind of superiority complex. I am, after all, someone who uses a KeepCup with religious fervour, and aggressively refuses plastic bags at the supermarket checkout. Perhaps it even makes me feel good to judge those who do not have the same ecological footprint as my own. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
WHY DO I GET A KICK OUT OF JUDGING PEOPLE WHO APPEAR NOT TO CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT??
IS THIS HOW VEGANS FEEL??????
The reason I have chosen to be especially vindictive against straws is because it’s very rare that one actually needs one. While there are some exceptions, there are remarkably few drinks that cannot be drunk directly from the lip of the cup (except bubble tea - I’m still sad that I can no longer bring myself to buy Chatime*). It is hence frustrating that some choose to indulge in the pleasure of sucking their drink like a baby on a teat for a total of 6 minutes, without considering the 450 years attached to that piece of plastic that will not break down in landfill, or end up in the ocean.
The Internet echo chamber has me believing that hundreds of thousands of other people have seen photos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (look it up if you haven’t, guaranteed to make your eyes water), and are as horrified as I am by the Patch and by the other staggering statistics on plastic waste. There are believed to be 236,000 tonnes of plastic in the ocean, with up to 46,000 individual pieces per square kilometre.
I am therefore not suggesting that people are ignorant of the effect of disposable plastics on the environment, nor that they give zero fucks about it. It’s just a depressing thing when the global economy and the mechanics of capitalism encourage us to prioritise our immediate wants and impulses over the long-term effects of our decisions.
This is probably nothing more than a self-indulgent rant on how much I hate straws. But on the off-chance that I have awoken some fiery passion within you, maybe chuck a search in Google for “zero-waste alternatives”and see what you come up with. It’s surprisingly easy to make the switch and refuse a few extra bits of plastic in your day-to-day life.
Come to the dark side, we have canvas bags and reusable bottles.
Person looking forward to the Victorian ban on single-use plastic bags more than Christmas.
*There are large steel bubble-tea-sized straws available online to address such needs.