Sunday, August 31, 2014

The last straw

Straws collected on Bondi Beach in Australia.
For some reason my mother never bought straws for our home at the regular store.  I am not sure how many straws we went through or any other reason why we needed to buy them in bulk but once in a while she would journey to a place in Buffalo, New York, that made straws and there she would pick up a huge box of them.

I went along on one occasion and while she was discussing her purchase with a clerk, I chanced to open a door that led to the factory floor where the straws were being produced. Actually factory floor is kind of a misnomer because what I saw was a room which memory now tells me was not very big.  Machinery filled almost every available square inch of floor space except for narrow passageways the operator used to access the apparatus. A fairly loud mechanical hum added to the feeling of congestion in the room along with the slight odor of warm lubrication oil.

Overhead and between various machines one long strand of straw material hummed around spinning pulleys and guides on the way to being cut in lengths and pushed into boxes. Suddenly out of this mechanical array, a man emerged. My recollection says he was short, perhaps even a little person, grimy and oily from head to toe as he tended the machines and their supposed clean path to market. I noticed his hands with oil pressed into every available crevice, dirty back and front.  I also recall greasy hair and a large nose, its pores also black with oil. He shook his fist at me indicating I should get out and close the door. I stood there shocked for a moment then quickly backed away and shut the door behind me.

By then my mother had completed her purchase and we left the store. But, I never could erase the image of that factory floor from my mind. Since that time I have never been able to see a straw without seeing the filthy conditions and the filthy man responsible for its manufacture.  Open and use one? Never. Won't do it. When people ask why I don't use straws I just say I saw the guy who makes them.

Today I learned for probably more than 60 years I have been on the politically correct side of the straw debate. Who knew there was a debate about straws? I should have. What I saw today was notice of a movement by an organization called the Ocean Conservancy to encourage people to stop using straws because they end up in the ocean killing wildlife, another senseless use of plastic with its enduring qualities. According to the conservancy, Americans eat out an average of four times a week and most of those meals involve at least one straw. If 25,000 people stop taking the straw, it will save 5 million straws over the course of a year, many of which could end up in the ocean.

Fine by me. I can now take sanctimonious pride in supporting yet another noble effort to save the oceans and their wildlife. As a matter of fact, because I haven't used a straw since the early 1950s,  maybe I can be held up as a hero to the cause. Probably not considering I did it without even being aware of it as an issue, an accidental environmentalist, at least in this context.


SKIP THE STRAW – The last straw challenge. Sign the pledge.


From Facebook


‪Carrie Ann Nash Lots of special needs people need straws, but there is a good alternative: my mom found safe acrylic, permanent straws that work well most of the time. (A bit challenging to keep clean...)

Pam Longobardi on the Ocean People Facebook page: there is NO challenge to keeping a stainless steel food grade straw clean, or tempered glass: see ‪http://greenapplesupply.org/.../ppc-go-plastic-free-basic... and ‪http://simplystraws.com/.....plastic is a toxic disposable nightmare from human lips to bird and turtle beaks
greenapplesupply.org


‪Carrie Ann Nash What she doesn't know is that many people with various issues simply CANNOT SUCK from a non-malleable straw. It is easy to be self righteous about this but your suggestions simply do not work for everyone. And depending on how far this is taken - should people stop using the plastic canulas such as the ones that keep my son alive and for which there is currently no alternative?!


‪Nikki Caputo i don't know that it's a self righteous issue as much as just gaps in information...it takes a village...this is how we learn and grow.
            bottom line: it's about LOVE

           

                        ‪Tim Jones I think there can be a meeting of the minds here. Just like my not using straws didn't make any difference at all in the amount dumped in the ocean, I should think the people who need malleable straws should certainly have them as they are a relatively small number compared with the general population and can be disposed of properly. It seems if the rest of us gave up the straws, that is what would make the difference.


‪Nikki Caputo and with knowledge that malleable straws (etc.) are important tools for some people/situations, perhaps alternatives to what we are familiar with and/or to what is currently available may be shared/innovated/imagined


‪Carrie Ann Nash I appreciate the discussion. I'm sorry to Pam for name-calling. The toxicity and omnipresence of plastic is horrifying, but it is equally difficult to contemplate the medical world without plastic.


‪Pam Longobardi everything is about information, balance, thoughtfulness,responsibility and LOVE~ Carrie, apology accepted and thank you Carrie, Tim and Nikki for sharing the concern to come up with creative and beautiful answers to this most difficult of challenges. Its complicated and never have humans, nor the whole interconnected planet we call home- EVER faced a more difficult and complex time. Will we figure this out in time? All these discussions, large and small, are the evolution of humanity.

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