Straw Bans - Silly or Progressive? by Callaghan TysonMayer
One of the biggest new trends in social media is the ban on plastic straws. There was recently a considerable movement to create laws against the use of plastic straws; while this is a massive step in a sound environmental direction, it was slightly miscalculated by the media. It all started when a video of a sea turtle went viral (3); the one with the straw stuck in its nose, and the divers have to use pliers to pull it out. This started a wave of information about how much plastic is thrown into our oceans each year: about 8 million tons (1). That means every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is thrown into an ocean; not a garbage bag, a full garbage truck (1). This is a frightening statistic, and it needs to change. Cutting out straws is a great start to raise environmental awareness, but really the plastic from straws only account for about .03% of the 8 million tons of plastic in the ocean (2).
"People with disabilities that require straws are being looked down upon by social media.rt quote."
Now you may feel like social media has guilted you out of using straws, and it barely has an effect on the ocean content, but anything helps! Yes, .03% is a tiny percentage, and even if we all completely stopped using straws (unrealistic in this society), we would still have a considerable plastic problem. However, every little bit helps and this trend helped spread a lot of awareness about how much plastic is in our oceans and how big of a problem it is. Once the conversation starts focusing on the plastic problem as a whole, we can advance our efforts to ban more than just straws.
The major downside to the straw banning campaign is that it creates a feeling of guilt for people who use straws that actually need them. People with disabilities that require straws are being looked down upon by social media. This is unnecessary and overdone, especially since the small amount of plastic makes some people’s lives significantly easier. For people without a disability, straws are almost always useless, and there is no harm in cutting down.
This is my question: is the straw ban trend worth the guilt? Any effort to protect the environment is a good effort, and one act of conservation usually leads to another. Spreading awareness of an issue is always the first step. The recognition brought forth by the intense interest on social media has had a positive impact on future conservation projects.
There have been many articles that proceed from this topic about how to cut down on plastic usage. However, the guilt society is starting to associate with straws has an unfortunate effect on the people that need to use them. These small pieces of plastic only account for .03% of the plastic in the ocean (2), and they make some people’s daily lives significantly more accessible.
Does the benefit outweigh the cost?
1 - https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/05/fact-sheet-plastics-in-the-ocean/
2 - https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-07/plastic-straws-aren-t-the-problem
3 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=98&v=4wH878t78bw
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