Aug
13

THE LAST STRAW

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A man tells about trying to throw a trash can away, the one thing it seems a garbage man won’t pick up.

One morning I set an old rusty trash can out at the street thinking that the garbage man would understand it needed to be thrown away; but when I came back that afternoon the can was still stacked up with the rest of my empty trash cans.  The next week I put it out again, and this time I turned it upside down so he could see that the bottom had several holes in it and it needed to be taken away. Yet when I came home it was still there, again next to the other empty cans.  The following week I took a sledgehammer and I beat the can in pretty good and left it out front.  However, when I came home not only was it stacked up next to the other empty trash cans, but the garbage man had actually tried to beat it back into shape. And so finally I did the only thing I could do. I went to the hardware store, bought a heavy duty chain with a padlock and I secured the old can to a large tree in my front yard.  Sure enough, that night somebody stole it!

A fashionable global protest has arisen to replace plastic straws with paper ones, the theory being that so doing will reduce plastic waste in the oceans.  And many are the restaurants (national chains and local eateries) that are getting onto this latest environmental bandwagon.  However, like most other green crusades, this one, too, is also  high on emotion and low on facts.
First, activists claim that North Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day (which does sound like a lot, but the source of this oft-quoted media figure turns out to be a nine-year-old child’s phone survey).  Second, if all the plastic straws used yearly by Canadians and Americans were to end up in the ocean (of course the majority don’t because most people do not live on the coasts) that would still represent just three-one-hundreds-of-one-percent of the total 13 million metric tons of plastic estimated to enter the oceans yearly.  Third, ten rivers are responsible for 90% of the plastic waste in oceans: eight of those waterways are in Asia (seven in China) and two are in Africa.  The research, conducted by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, finds these worst offenders have a combination of large populations living by the rivers and poor waste management when it comes to collecting and dumping.  (The truth is, if you took all of the yearly plastic waste on this continent and deposited it en masse into the oceans, it would still be just nine-tenths-of-one-percent of the word’s total.)  Talk about grasping for straws.  But now, as the nanny state once again forces its mother-earth agenda on us, the price of eating out will once again go up, as paper straws costs seven times as much to produce as plastic straws.

The bottom line?  Looks like I’m now going to have to make room in the closet for boxes of plastic straws, right next to the boxes of incandescent light bulbs.