By MARY BETH MAASSEN
The other day I ran into my sister Laurie at Smith’s. As we are chatting I notice the clip display of flexible drinking straws. I reach over, grab a bag of straws, and drop them in my cart.
“No, no! We can’t use plastic straws,” my sister chided me. “It’s bad for marine life and birds and the environment. Over 500 million straws are thrown away every day.”
Sometimes my sister makes stuff up to get me do what she wants. Sometimes I make stuff up to get her to do what I want. We both know this. But this time, I knew she was right. But I looked it up anyway, just to check.
According the website thelastplasticstraw.com, 175 billion straws a year end up in landfills, waterways, and our oceans. I spend time picking up litter on the county roads near my home. Mostly what I fill my trash bags with are little baby bottles of Atomic Fireball, really big beer cans, and takeout containers from Sonic, but there are lots of straws as well.
My husband and I are scuba divers. Years ago, on a trip near Kona, the sites we wanted to dive were particularly choppy. The guide took us to a calm bay, where we participated in an ocean floor clean-up campaign. I was appalled by the number of straws we collected, but I never connected the dots between the straws I use at home and the straws covering the ocean floor, but they are the same straws.
So this week I will work to remove disposable straws from my life. My ultimate goal is to rid our home of all disposable plastic, but first, baby steps. And my first baby step is to find a new way to suck.
Here is what I will do:
- Quit using straws at home. I am a straw-lover so I will buy a stainless, glass, or BPA-free reusable straw.
- Refuse straws in restaurants. Many restaurants now only provide straws on request.
- Stop using juice boxes. I know when the kids are around they are really, really handy. But not only do they come with a baby plastic straw, they also come with a tiny-tiny straw wrapper.
Living simply is remarkably complicated, but I continue my walk in that direction, one step at a time.