Plastic straws are a phony issue for phony people

There is a lot of trash and litter here in the Philippines. It is everywhere. Sometimes the stench is awful.
Plastic trash is ubiquitous.
Many products are sold in tiny, single use cellophane packages and bags- salt, soy sauce, chili powder, baking powder, pepper… all kinds of things are single use items in plastic or foil pouches.
Large containers, especially of glass or metal, or even hard plastic, are luxury items.

Good infrastructure and waste management systems are also luxuries when you are so deep in poverty you are hungry every day and children in your country are sleeping on the streets.
America’s plastic straws are not the problem. Most of the expensive replacements also use a *lot* of resources.
You want to help in a meaningful way?
Do something for people in poverty in Thailand, India, Viet Nam, Africa, the Philippines. Contribute to school scholarships, food programs, microloan places like Kiva. Spend the funds for your steel straw and hundred dollar shoes from sustainable products to help people who do not know when their next meal will be. Buy the more environmentally friendly 2nd hand shoes. Lift others out of poverty so they, too have the luxury of waste management instead living on garbage dumps and digging through trash for scraps.
It won’t display your environmental virtue like a stainless steel straw. It will only help your fellow humans as well as the environment, and for a much longer time.

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  1. Faith
    Posted August 31, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Not everyone who tries to avoid plastic trash is just virtue signaling. What an uncharitable blog post. Shame on you! How can we ever improve if whenever someone tries to they are immediately shot down. And the people I know who are environmentally conscientious also try to do things to help the poor. They are not mutually exclusive. So call me phony all you want. But you’ve just lost a blog viewer. What a snob you are!

    • Headmistress
      Posted August 31, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s not avoiding all plastic trash- it’s specifically the *straws*- did you notice the title of the post? Have you been following the news? The *banning* of plastic straws in California is nonsense. The plastic straws are not the problem, it’s not going to make a lick of difference to the environment (except to make things worse when people use the expensive replacements that use more resources)

      • chrissy
        Posted August 31, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think this post is snobbish. I also see the “look at my environmental conscientiousness!” behaviors and have often thought about exactly the points you are making. It is fine to control the waste we produce but we are nuts if we think it is anything compared to the uncontrolled pollution produced in developing countries. They are struggling to survive and we are quibbling about whether or not lunch boxes should contain PVC and advising our other comparatively wealthy friends on the best place to get a $50 bento box for our kindergartener. Not to mention the many conversations about glass baby bottles versus reusing the plastic baby bottles or replacing all of the tupperware with stainless and glass. You make valid points, Headmistress, but I think you pricked someone in the feelings with your logic.

        • Headmistress
          Posted August 31, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Chrissy.
          And not to beat a dead horse- but the straws.

          Supposedly Americans use 500,000 straws a day. And a lot of energy, time, money, and resources are being invested in promoting that number and pretending it’s real and making up laws and fake solutions to that fake problem:

          “The source for this number is an unconfirmed 2011 phone survey of three straw manufacturers conducted by 9-year-old Milo Cress. That’s a pretty shaky foundation for an argument, but that hasn’t stopped media outlets, activist organizations, and government officials from using the figure to justify restrictions on the use of plastic straws.

          Many outlets were either oblivious to the figure’s origins or mistakenly attributed it to the National Park Service. Learning its true source did spark some self-reflection from the Washington Post, which had cited the 500 million number in some of its reporting, and which ran a story that was somewhat skeptical of Cress’s findings.

          Sadly, that introspection was short-lived. This past Friday, the Post was back to uncritically citing Cress’s research, saying in a story that “by some estimates, Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws a day.””

          Meanwhile…. I see children and old people sleeping in the street, digging in the trash, begging from street corners, picking lice out of each other’s hair, in Manila there are entire communities *built* in and on active garbage dumps and people pick through the trash each day, and I’ve read about worse happening here- and this is a country that is contributing more plastic waste directly into the oceans in far greater numbers than the U.S. The cost of one of the fancy replacement straws would probably feed a street-child for a month. The time invested in politicians in California making it a crime for a waiter to hand out a straw and the cost of the law enforcement would support a family, could solve real problems, could be spent on buying books for and reading to impoverished children in their own cities. But no. It’s all about the fake issue of plastic straws.

          • Chris
            Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

            There’s no flash in feeding children. Every politician says they care about that but so few do the things that make it happen. My friends that worry about pollution originating from horrible consumerist America don’t connect the dots. They don’t factor in the waste from dumping their functioning car to buy a Prius or the waste from emptying their home of usable items to replace with trendy eco stuff. The blindness that goes with wealth.

    • Lisa Beth W.
      Posted September 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      And the flavor I get from YOUR post is someone looking to be offended. You yourself were very uncharitable. It seems like you were “itching for a fight”, as they say. DHM’s post is obviously about what will really help rather than simply virtue signalling. She wasn’t condemning anyone from doing small things, rather advocating for not pretending like a small thing is a big thing. Untwist your undies, dear.

  2. SEM
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I have a family member with numerous health issues who has to use a straw in order to get down liquids. We try rinsing the straws out so we can reuse them, but that is only sanitary for a little while. Glass, metal, etc. aren’t good options for this person for various reasons — so we aren’t too happy about all the anti-straw sentiment right now.

    Funny thing is that now a lot of the towns around us want to ban plastic bags; it wasn’t so long ago that we had to stop using paper bags because trees had to be cut to make them and so to be environmentally friendly, everybody switched to plastic. For sanitary reasons (blood from meat, etc.) we really don’t want to use reusable bags — again, with a family member with fragile health, we don’t want to do anything that can promote disease.

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