On a recent trip to California I ordered a glass of lemonade with lunch. My ice cold drink came without a straw.
I can’t drink lemonade without a straw. Margaritas either. For me, drinking from a glass without a straw is kind of like eating eating soup without a spoon. Sooner or later liquid ends up all over my shirt.
Besides, it just kind of destroys the enjoyment of sipping ice cold beverages, even if it does significantly decrease the incidence of brain freeze.
The waitress explained that her restaurant no longer serves straws unless the customer specifically asks for one. As I opened my mouth to ask for one she went on to explain that plastic drinking straws are bad for marine life.
I found this a little hard to believe since, unlike humans, fish live in water and don’t really need straws to drink. But I understood her point. And I for one did not want to be responsible for giving Spongebob gill cancer just because I selfishly wanted to derive a little joy sipping lemonade at a restaurant.
So I did what any modern day urban survivalist would do. I went to the app store to download iStraw8 or TubeInhaler or UpYours or some other clever app that would allow me to suck liquid through my iPhone. I don’t know, maybe by putting the earbuds in my mouth and inhaling through the charger port or something. I mean, they have apps for everything else, why not a virtual straw?
Of course, I learned there is no such application for the iPhone. At least the version that I have. Another reason why technology sucks. Or doesn’t in this case.
But my iPhone did reveal that Americans use over 500 million straws each day, and that the plastic takes over 200 years to decompose and is harmful to the environment.
And did you know that straws are among the top 10 items collected during beach cleanups every year?
I assumed sand and seaweed would be up there too, but they are not. It turns out the junk that floats in our oceans are all plastic derivatives. Bags, bottles, caps, utensils, foam containers. There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic bobbing over the ocean floor ready to be eaten by fish or deposited on our beaches. And unless sea turtles are going to McDonalds on a regular basis, this is all crap from us.
Suddenly I didn’t feel so guilty for all those times I peed in the ocean.
And do you know what the number one ocean pollutant is? Cigarette butts. The filters contain something called cellulose acetate. It’s not good for fish. Or humans.
OK, I don’t smoke so you can’t pin that one on me. But it probably explains why the Salmon I ordered for lunch tasted like it was prepared in a late night Parisian nightclub.
Now I don’t expect you to believe any of this. As we have learned over the past couple of years, facts have no place in informed discourse.
But despite our feelings about plastic, we need to ask ourselves, do we really need to pick on the poor little straw?
I mean it is one thing to live through the demise of rotary phones, cassettes, rabbit ears and fidget spinners. But the straw?
Gone will be the days of young lovers staring each other in the eyes while their eager lips kiss straws over a shared milkshake at the soda fountain, whatever a soda fountain is. Gone will be the days of young Billy putting someone’s eye out with a straw pea shooter. Gone will be the days of capping the end of a straw with our forefinger then releasing the trapped liquid all over someone’s lap.
It has something to do with air pressure, but kids in the future will never know this.
And without straws, how will they ever learn how to siphon gas from cars?
Son: Dad, what is that thing in the display case?
Dad: It’s called a straw, Jimmy. Long ago people used them to suck lemonade from a glass.
Son: Why would they do that?
Dad: I don’t really know. Humans were primitive then. Later they discovered a way to suck lemonade through their iPhones.
Son: What’s an iPhone?
Dad: iPhones are eventually what polluted the oceans and killed all the fish.
Son: What’s a fish?
I drank my ice cold lemonade from the wide mouth glass and dribbled some of it on my shirt. It was a small price to pay.
And when I was finished the waitress served me the check. It came with a clear plastic Bic pen, which I put in my pocket for later use.
If you take out the ink cartridge and bite off the end cap it makes a good straw.