Will banning plastic straws negatively impact your life? Probably not

Jan. 7, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

I can hear the screaming now.

According to a story from the State House News Service by Chris Lisinski, “Massachusetts businesses would be banned from distributing disposable plastic straws unless a customer requests one, under a bill endorsed by Environment Committee on Monday and described as ‘ridiculous’ by a leading small business advocate.”

The bill would “prohibit restaurants, coffee shops and other food service establishments from providing customers with single-use plastic straws by default.

“Patrons could still request a single-use straw, and the restriction would not apply to reusable straws or ‘a straw made of non-plastic or biodegradable materials including, but not limited to, paper, pasta, sugar cane, wood, or bamboo,’ according to the bill text.”

OMG! Someone is trying to wrestle away my right to use a plastic straw! Snowflake liberals are eroding my rights! Climate change is a hoax! I don’t want to change my habits! Dobbs is a commie.

I’m assured I’ll get some of those reactions.

Naturally there is opposition to the bill. Lisinski reported, “The National Federation of Independent Business’s Massachusetts chapter criticized the development, writing in a tweet that the ban was ‘ridiculous.’

“NFIB Massachusetts State Director Christopher Carlozzi told the News Service his group believes a ban on plastic straws will force businesses to pay more for biodegradable or reusable alternatives.

“For small businesses, consumer satisfaction is key and making plastic straws ‘by request’ only may result in negative experiences for drive through and take-out restaurant customers if they forgets to ask,” Carlozzi wrote in an email. “It is common sense that someone purchasing an ice coffee or soda would require a straw and this policy adds an unnecessary step for both the customer and the business.’”

I’m not sure how my generation survived when I was a kid as we had paper straws. I find not every cold drink I consume requires a straw. Shouldn’t this be an easy fix?

If you need a straw, you ask for one and you get something that does the job but will not wash up on a beach as plastic litter or is found inside a dead animal. Would people be willing to add a few cents to their purchase in order to have a straw that doesn’t pollute? I think so.

Consider a moment the elimination of single use plastic bags by several major retailers. Has that negatively affected your life? I bet not.

Why people get so twisted about preserving the right to using a plastic straw is beyond me. An easy solution is buying a set of metal straws and keeping them in the car, or purse, or office.

Consider the following:

  • We still are dealing with mass shootings with no real solution in sight.
  • We are suffering from the effects from climate change with some people still fighting efforts to make the changes we need to make.
  • We have an aging infrastructure that must be addressed.
  • Affordable health insurance is still a serious problem for millions of Americans.
  • In Massachusetts, having financial equity between different parts of the state remains a big concern.
  • Our roadways in the Commonwealth are incapable of handling the current amount of car traffic and more mass transit solutions are needed.
  • Municipalities are struggling with the cost of trash disposal and effective recycling.
  • While Massachusetts has improved the funding of schools, more is required to create a competitive workforce.

All of these are extremely serious problems that affect our way of life and our economy. Using a non-plastic straw is not an issue. Banning plastic straws is a small step to eliminate some of the plastic waste that is polluting waterways and causing landfills to bulge.

We no longer as a nation or species can be so selfish to assume we can consume without reactions to our habits. We actually need to think about what we are doing.

Reaching for a straw may be one of those habits we don’t think about but we should. No, we need to think about it.

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