Earlier this year I said plastic straw bans were a great idea. I said that even if there are orders of magnitude larger sources of pollution, positive steps aren’t mutually exclusive, and if it’s such a trivial change for most of us, why not?
But there are two further points to consider.
Most of the world’s plastic pollution comes from developing parts of Asia. Disposable material is cheaper for low income families to buy (at least up-front), and much of the rest is shipped there by the developed world to deal with.
I also grossly underestimated the effect this would have on accessibility, and for that I’m sorry. I figured it would be easy for people to bring their own straws as needed, or for restaurants to stock them as opt-in. But there have been enough heartbreaking stories of people being refused service because wait staff don’t believe they need them. This is, to put it at its mildest, dehumanising.
My core position hasn’t changed: we’ve reached crisis point with plastic waste, and anything we can do helps. We should be generating less of this shit, and realigning business incentives towards more sustainable products. Certain restaurant staff also clearly need empathy training, as I needed to today.
I’m sure we can come to a common ground here that’s respectful, but also acknowledging that the vast majority of plastic straws, and other forms of disposable plastic, really need to be replaced.